by writer/director Nikolaj Arcel
The events that are depicted in A Royal Affair are among the most dramatic and dynamic in European history. But until now, nobody outside of Denmark knew the first thing about the story.
The fact that his particular tale hasn’t reached the cinema screens before 2012 is frankly incredible (and I guess, for me, very lucky), considering that for a filmmaker, it’s almost too good to be true.
In 1760s Denmark, a small town doctor for the poor—whose modern ideas were inspired by the same notions of Enlightenment that led to the declaration of independence in the U.S.—becomes the Danish king’s personal physician. He not only befriends the king and cures him of mental illness, he also uses this friendship to become the de facto king, revolutionizing the entire nation and disassembling the stranglehold of the nobility from within, at the highest personal cost.
As if this wasn’t enough drama, the doctor also engages in a passionate but dangerous relationship with the young beautiful queen, thereby endangering not only his friendship with the king, but also his life.
There’s a good story for you, right? And it all really happened. So my job here, as the writer/director was basically to try to be true to the characters, stay out of the way of the story and be as honest as I possibly could.
The big trap of doing a period film is that you can sometimes distance yourself from the characters; you are perhaps too polite when writing, or dealing with, royalty. So the main vision for me was to do a highly modern film, a film that concerns itself with real people, truthful moments and raw emotions. I kept saying to myself, these people were no different from you or I, they bled, they felt, they laughed and loved and hated in equal measures. Hopefully this comes across in the film, as do the timely political issues.