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THE YOUNG VICTORIA

Production Story
Academy Award® winning British producer Graham King was in production on The Departed, when the idea for The Young Victoria was presented to him. "A mutual friend arranged a meeting with Sarah Ferguson and she pitched several projects to me. She was full of ideas and she had one about Queen Victoria. She said she always wanted to show the queen in a different way to how she was commonly perceived, as always in mourning. The idea stayed with me and I talked to Marty (Scorsese) about it and he pointed out it had never been done before. I've been trying to make a film in the UK for 15 years and I'd never found the right script or even the right material. I'd never had the emotion or the passion to make a film in the UK before now. But this felt right.” 

Oscar® winning screen-writer Julian Fellowes heard about the project early on and contacted King about writing the script. Having been interested for a long time in the life of Queen Victoria, it was a dream project for him. "I was very keen. It's always a great advantage when a subject comes to you that is already in your life. I thought if someone else writes this film I'll have to kill myself!” Fellowes says. "I met Graham and Scorsese in Martin's trailer when they were shooting The Departed, which in itself was an iconic day.” 

King and Scorsese were so taken with Fellowes's ideas they immediately commissioned him to write the script. Six months later it was completed. King was impressed. "His first draft was close to a shooting script, I knew as soon as I read it we had a movie. It's very rare to get a first draft that is as good as this was, but as he said, he was born to write this." 

For Fellowes it was the early life of the young queen that fascinated him. "Ninety nine per cent of the public don't know anything about the story of her early life and will be surprised.” The film is set in the period from 1836, the year before Victoria ascended the throne, to 1840 the year she married Prince Albert and sets out to revise the widely held picture of Queen Victoria as an elderly widow dressed in black. "The Queen Victoria everyone knows is the older Widow of Windsor with the handkerchief on her head, a rather fat woman in black looking depressed. Very few people know about the other side of her, her early life: that she was young, that she loved dancing, that she loved music and that she was very romantic. Some girls like to have fun and she was certainly one of them,” explains Fellowes. "But the extraordinary story at the beginning of her reign is how everyone tries to control her. I was convinced we should begin the film before her succession and her marriage to Albert. That way you can see her struggle with her mother, the Duchess of Kent, who tried to devise a role for herself so she could get more control. The business of instant celebrity is also interesting," Fellowes continues. "One minute Victoria was living under virtual house arrest, the next she was the most famous woman in the world."

The early part of the film presents Victoria living in a virtual prison. Fellowes explains Victoria's early life. "Before her 63 year reign began, Victoria had a horrible childhood. Her father died before her first birthday, leaving her mother, the Duchess of Kent, to raise the heiress to the throne. The Duchess can never have another child who is in line for the throne because her husband is dead. She's just got this one frail little squib who will be Queen if only she doesn't die. This created in her a kind of neurotic protectionism, resulting in a smothering childhood where Victoria could not have her own room and had to sleep on a little cot next to her mother's bed until she was 18. She wasn't able to go up or down stairs without holding an adult hand. She had almost no friends. It was a terribly lonely time.” 

The film charts Victoria's journey to the throne

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