A fascinating but little-known corner of the Enlightenment is brought to vivid life with this complex and engrossing historical drama from Denmark. Who knew that the Danes had their own revolutionary moment in the early 1770s, before the French and the Americans overturned the social order? Well, here’s the true story of the English princess Caroline Mathilde, who conspired with Voltaire-inspired court doctor Johann Struensee to get her husband, mad King Christian VII, to over-rule the aristocracy and introduce a whole raft of liberalising legislation.
The strength of the movie, though, is that it never plays this as schoolbook fact-checking, instead positing events as the fateful collision of tragic romance, ideological circumstance and three highly complex individuals. Rising star Alicia Vikander impresses as the ill-fated young queen, Mikkel Følsgaard is immensely sympathetic as the disturbed monarch, while ever-reliable Mads Mikkelsen’s idealistic medic carries the thematic thrust as he discovers that freedom is all very well . . . until you’re actually running a country. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)