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Wednesday, July 3

A Royal Affair (En Kongelig Affaere)

Mads Mikkelsen is this Danish actor that really moves me. I wish I could say he is the new kid on the block but he is neither getting any younger, nor is he any newcomer. It is only my excitement at discovering his performing skills and the movies he has made so far. This time, it is A Royal Affair, a 2012 Danish historical drama film directed by Nikolaj Arcel, which stars Alicia Vikander and Mads Mikkelsen. Johan Struensee, the German doctor of the royal family, is portrayed onscreen by actor Mads Mikkelsen, whose subtle performance is of the key points of the movie.

Johan Struensee, a freethinker and supporter of Enlightenment, arrives at the Danish court as King Christian VII's personal doctor, at the recommendation of two noblemen, Brandt and Rantzau. Johan and the king connect instantly and the doctor's influence over Christian grows to the point of bringing important social reforms to the Danish society. His reading preferences, his charisma and visionary ideas bring Struensee closer to the Queen's attention and, eventually, bed. Princess Caroline Mathilde, played nicely by Alicia Vikander, is a dreamy 15-year old girl who comes to Copenhagen hoping for a great marriage to her cousin, Denmark's King Christian VII. Her initial disappointment at the mentally ill, pitiful boy-man turns into a quiet acceptance of her buffoon of a husband. Her boring life changes when she meets her husband's personal doctor, an intellectual with a taste for social benevolent reforms who wins her heart and fathers her little girl. The illicit love story is exposed, Johan and Brandt are beheaded and the Queen is exiled.


The movie is not only a lovely Danish history lesson but also a forbidden love affair that got nominated for the best 2012 foreign film Oscar. Despite the conventional subject, the film is a bold and faithful illustration of one of the most famous royal affairs. I loved the cinematic rhythm and the colourful atmosphere that reminded me of Luchino Visconti's movies or of Amadeus itself. The performances of Mads Mikkelsen and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, as the mad king, are exquisite and poignant, giving strength to the movie. The scenes are bright and full of light, the landscapes are breathtaking and the costumes invite comparison to other historical dramas such as Elizabeth, Anna Karenina or Marie Antoinette.

Social ideals, love for books and the desire to change do not go together with passion and as soon as you mix them, hell breaks loose: lovers are torn apart, families are broken and people die- in the name of love, of a better world and of political games. History has proven on countless occasions that affairs of the heart are not to be interwoven with those of the state. Nevertheless, A Royal Affair (En Kongelig Affaere) is the love affair that dragged Denmark out of the Dark Ages in the hope that love conquers and wins all.

P.S. Mads Mikkelsen's name is pronounced Mass Miggelsen.

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