Nikolaj Arcel's 1700's drama "A Royal Affair" about the mad Christian VII, his queen Caroline Mathilda and one of the greatest reformers in Danish history, Johann Friedrich Struensee, enjoyed its domestic release Thursday 29 March.
The film won two Silver Bears at Berlin in February for Best Actor (Mikkel Boe Følsgaard) and Best Script (Nickolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg), and is now equally well-received in Denmark. Most national papers give 5 stars out of 6, and critics highlight the well-structured screenplay, impressive craftsmanship and strong acting from Mads Mikkelsen, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and Alicia Vikander.
Jacob Wendt Jensen, from Berlingske writes:
"Especially Mikkel Boe Følsgaard is remarkable in a very difficult role. He plays the balance between mental and moments of what appears to be clarity elegantly and finely dosed. He is not just one big nervous hysterical laugh, and ultimately Christian VII becomes human."
A triumph on almost every level
Kim Skotte from Politiken continues to sing the actors' praises and writes about Alicia Vikander's Caroline Mathilda:
"Vikander captures the sweetness, idealism and stiff-neckedness with the same precision, and when was the last time you saw a film where cheeks blush so enchantingly that it looks like an argument for having invented the colour film?"
Skotte calls the film "a triumph on almost every level" and "an example of how beautifully good craftsmanship can form a synthesis when everything seems well thought out and carefully prepared to the last detail on the basis of a screenplay, which is spot on in terms of both basic idea and dialogue."
Ekstra Bladet's Henrik Queitsch gives the film 6 stars out of 6 and also commends the film for its characterizations:
"Nothing is black and white. Struensee is not just power-hungry or an enlightened idealist, but possibly both. Christian VII is not 'just' a lunatic, but rather a fragile mind in too high a post and Caroline Mathilda is not only a victim of the men's struggle for the throne, but a very active player."
Caroline Mathilda's garters
The film has generated an increased local interest in Struensee and the dramatic chapter of Danish history. For those in Copenhagen, the State Archives display an exhibition about the real story behind the film.
Here, history comes alive through documents and objects from the period, including a set of garters that Struensee gave Caroline Mathilda, which was submitted as evidence when he was convicted and sentenced to death. Other documents include libel and broadsheet ballads from 1770-72 about the public outrage over Struensee's affair with the queen, and original drawings by Christian VII, providing a look into a pained and confused mind.
Sold to 76 countries
International audiences can also look forward to experience "A Royal Affair". The film has been sold to 76 countries, including the U.S., Russia, Kazakhstan, Australia, Cuba, Japan, China and most European nations.
According to Rikke Ennis, CEO of the film's sales agency Trust Nordisk, "A Royal Affair" owns its international popularity partly to the cast of Mads Mikkelsen and partly to the film's authentic grandeur.
"It's the first time that Denmark is doing this type of epic that can compete with large American and French costume films. But the real story alone also sells the movie really well," she says to Politiken.
Read interview with Nikolaj Arcel The Responsibility To Tell A Good Story