Danish royal scandal in frame in new period film

Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:57pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - The big surprise for many people watching "A Royal Affair", about Denmark's very own royal scandal of the late 18th century, was that it has not been turned into a film more often.

The costume drama starring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen had its world premiere at the Berlin film festival on Thursday and is one of 18 pictures competing for prizes at the awards ceremony on Saturday.

Director Nikolaj Arcel admitted he played with the facts in his lavish production shot mainly in the Czech Republic, but that the basic structure of the plot was true to life.

The dramatic, real-life story centers around Danish King Christian VII and his unhappy marriage to English aristocrat Caroline Matilda.

Though the couple had a son, the future King Frederick VI, the queen fell in love with court physician Johann Friedrich Struensee, a German doctor whose influence over the king and country grew until he was Denmark's de facto ruler.

Struensee's affair with the queen probably produced a child, but his influence, illicit relationship and passion for enlightenment and bold reform made him unpopular with the nobility who maneuvered to bring him down.

"At one point I thought, 'why hasn't anyone done this yet?'," said Arcel. "It's such a fantastic, big story with so many emotions," he told reporters after a press screening.

A British film called "The Dictator" did cover the same period of Danish history, although it was released 77 years ago.   Continued...