12 November 2017

Victoria and Abdul

Went to see the film "Victoria and Abdul" the other evening. Dame Judy Dench in effect reprises her role in the 1997 film "Mrs. Brown" but this time with a studly Indian Muslim instead of a cantankerous Scottish Presbyterian as a male companion.

I found the first half of the film delightful. Director Stephen Fears provides a deft and light-hearted touch as functionaries Abdul Karim and Mohammed Buxhse find themselves transported from the warmth of British India to cold and wet England to present a coin minted in honor of the queen's Golden Jubilee. Impressed by Abdul's exotic appearance and exceptional devotion, Victoria keeps him on as a personal secretary for over a decade. 

It was in the second half of the film that the screenplay took on a tone of political correctness. Historical sources (here and here) confirm that Abdul was deeply resented by the queen's staff and family who had him deported immediately after her death. Yet I find it difficult to imagine Queen Victoria being quite so woke in her attitude toward Abdul and expressive of solidarity with her oppressed, brown-skinned Muslim subjects. I also found the film's portrayal of Abdul's Pollyannaish goodness a bit tedious and, as it turns out, not quite consistent with the historical record.

Still, when all was said and done I enjoyed "Victoria and Abdul" and recommend it to my readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment