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Victoria and Abdul Film Review

Updated on March 2, 2020
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I am a film enthusiast and enjoy reviewing films I have watched. I like all sorts of films but mainly black & white ones from the '50s/'60s.

Judy Dench
Queen Victoria
Ali Fazal
Abdul Karim (The Munshi)
Eddie Izzard
Bertie, Prince of Wales
Tim Piggott-Smith
Henry Ponsonby
Paul Higgins
Dr Reid
Michael Gambon
Lord Salisbury

About the film

Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Beeban Kidron, Tracey Seaward

Director: Stephen Frears

Running time: 1 hr 51 mins

Genre: History, Drama, Biography

Distributed By: Focus Features

Budget: $21,000,000

About the film

Abdul Karim is a Prison Clerk from India, which at the time was run by England. The film is set in 1887 and Abdul is instructed to travel to England to present to Queen Victoria a mohur for her Golden Jubilee. A mohur is a coin which was especially minted as a token of appreciation from India. Initially, he is reluctant to travel, but eventually agrees to undertake this task. So he sails to England with strict instructions on how to act when he meets the Queen. He is told, especially, not to make eye contact with her.

So when he arrives in England, he does his utter best to do as he is instructed when he presents her with the mohur. But Abdul does catch a glimpse of her when he is bowing to her, and she returns the gaze. Queen Victoria was feeling quite alone and fed up after the death of her husband, Albert. Strange as it may seem, she strikes up quite a close friendship with Abdul, and the 2 become really close friends, spending a lot of time together. She enjoys his company and the pair can often be found alone walking the grounds, talking and laughing with each other.

The unlikely friendship is not received well amongst her closest aids and family. More astonishingly, she had promoted him to Munshi, which is a Persian word for someone who is a master of languages. Queen Victoria's household are even more shocked by this. There is a scene in the film where her son, Edward, tells her he will have her certified insane if she carries on with this friendship. Of course she doesn't take this comment well and soon puts him in his place. As her closest aides try to destroy their close friendship, the pair only seem to grow closer. The film tells the story of the close bond these 2 unlikely candidates struck up and the strong will that Queen Victoria had with the people around her.

I am 81 years of age. I've had 9 children and 42 grandchildren, and have almost a billion citizens. I have rheumatism, a collapsed uterus, I'm morbidly obese and deaf in 1 ear. I have known 11 Prime Ministers and passed 2,347 pieces of legislation. I've been in office 62 years, 234 days. Thus, I am the longest-serving monarch in world history. I'm responsible for five households and a staff of over 3,000. But I am anything but insane.

— Queen Victoria

My Thoughts

When I saw this film advertised on Netflix, I was intrigued. I had no idea that Queen Victoria had made such a special friendship and bond with Abdul. The film portrays the story of this friendship in such an excellent way. Having been widowed for several years now when she met Abdul, she was fedup with Royal duties and, I think, longed for a bit of excitement in her life. Not only that, but Abdul was a breath of fresh air in her life.

I think Judy Dench played an excellent part as Queen Victoria. Although I had not heard of Ali Fazal before, who played Abdul, I think he played a really good roll. The 2 actors seemed to have a really good working relationship and worked well together. The film kept me interested enough to want to know what would happen next. It was certainly an interesting and intriguing friendship they had. Not everyone agreed with it. But Queen Victoria was a strong and stubborn woman and wouldn't let anything or anyone stop her doing what she enjoyed.

If you've not seen this, it's available to watch on Netflix. Personally, I loved it.

© 2020 Louise Powles


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