Queen Victoria: Evening at Osborne VHS
In her uncanny portrayal of one of England's most remarkable monarchs, Prunella Scales is light years from the comically regal character Sybil that she made famous on Fawlty Towers. This astute profile of Victoria, based on the Queen's own letters and journals, reveals much about an enigmatic woman and her hold on the public. 51 min. VHS.
Based on the play An Evening with Queen Victoria, this thoroughly British Thames television production is a one-woman show taken verbatim from Her Royal Majesty's journals. Queen Victoria is portrayed by Prunella Scales, the actress perhaps best known as the shrewish wife Sybil Fawlty (opposite Monty Python's John Cleese) on the series Fawlty Towers. Scales makes a formidable and entirely credible Victoria in her last years, sitting alone in her drawing room reminiscing about her extraordinary life. As the memories flood in, Scales sometimes metamorphoses into a younger queen, strolling about her magnificent palace gardens. Victoria's journals are a wonderfully rich source, by turns inspiring, touching, witty, brutally candid--even, at times, surprisingly ribald. "I'm rather short for a Queen," she admits, "but I always sit up straight." She blasts her eldest son, "Bertie" (the future Edward VII), citing his "small and empty brain." Basking in the memory of her coronation, she declares, "We were not overwhelmed by our accession, rather full of courage. We took things as they came and knew they must be." With a minimum of bells and whistles, there emerges a fully realized portrait of Victoria Regina, the longest reigning monarch in the history of Great Britain. --Laura Mirsky
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Without the pomp and circumstance that surrounds the Royal presence, it was very hard to place the woman herself into a good context. It just seemed like a forgotten old lady in the corner of a nursing home talking to herself in lieu of any visitors.