As usual my brain is jelly having spent all day chained to the kitchen and school table. However, I thought I might be able to engage in a spot of film criticism. Matt and I recently subscribed to Netflix in a desperate attempt to have at least one night a week of no church. So this week we watched Mrs. Brown with Judi Dench playing a bereaved (at the time of the movie it’s been 3 years since Prince Albert died) and reclusive Queen Victoria. Judi Dench, as always, is fabulous, even in horrible black Victorian fashion, the rest of the cast is fine, and the movie over all basically good.
But most particularly interesting, to me, was how unmoored Queen Victoria (or Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria) was without Prince Albert. Several times in the course of the film she said, ‘I tried always to be guided by my husband’ or ‘I try to think of what my husband would do, even though he is not here, and do that’. She was unable to cope, or rather refused to cope, with every day life. In other words, she was unable to govern herself. In an effort to bring her out of her grief, her staff brings one Mr. Brown on the scene to at least get her out of doors. Mr. Brown is Scottish and aggressive and essentially forces the Queen back into public life.
This rather surprised me. If anyone should have a hold of themselves, I would have thought it would be Queen Victoria (I shouldn’t really be writing, I haven’t read a thing about her, although now I’m going to). And probably in the recesses of my mind, I thought of her as the quintessential ‘feminist’, in the old sense of the word, as in, strong independent woman—after all, she got to be queen and her husband was never allowed to be king. And even more I would have expected a modern interpretation of her life to have skipped out lines like ‘I try always to think of what my husband would do, and do that’.
Modern feminism is really the opposite—find out what your husband wants to do and then do the opposite, or belittle him, or rule over him, or just generally be in charge of everything. The very idea of being guided by another person, particularly a man, is contrary to the modern woman, at least in her conscious mind. But I would wager, even a small amount of money, that if the man she rules would wake up one day and just not take it any more, she might, very much like Queen Victoria, make the best of it, and actually be a lot more relaxed and happy about life as a result. Knowing, of course, as I write this, that I’m liable to be disagreed with in the strongest of terms.