Mrs. Brown

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Mrs Brown
Mrs Brown UK theatrical poster.jpg
Original UK theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Madden
Produced bySarah Curtis
Written byJeremy Brock
StarringJudi Dench
Billy Connolly
Geoffrey Palmer
Antony Sher
Gerard Butler
Music byStephen Warbeck
CinematographyRichard Greatrex
Editing byRobin Sales
Distributed byBuena Vista International (UK)
Miramax (US)
Release dates
  • 18 July 1997 (1997-07-18) (United States)
  • 5 September 1997 (1997-09-05) (United Kingdom)
Running time103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
 
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Mrs Brown
Mrs Brown UK theatrical poster.jpg
Original UK theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Madden
Produced bySarah Curtis
Written byJeremy Brock
StarringJudi Dench
Billy Connolly
Geoffrey Palmer
Antony Sher
Gerard Butler
Music byStephen Warbeck
CinematographyRichard Greatrex
Editing byRobin Sales
Distributed byBuena Vista International (UK)
Miramax (US)
Release dates
  • 18 July 1997 (1997-07-18) (United States)
  • 5 September 1997 (1997-09-05) (United Kingdom)
Running time103 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Mrs. Brown (also released and advertised under the title Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown) is a 1997 British drama film starring Judi Dench, Billy Connolly, Geoffrey Palmer, Antony Sher and Gerard Butler. It was written by Jeremy Brock and directed by John Madden.

The film was produced by the BBC and Ecosse Films with the intention of being shown on BBC One and on WGBH's Masterpiece Theatre. However, it was acquired by Miramax and released to unexpected success, going on to earn more than $13,000,000 worldwide.

The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.[1] Dench was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, but lost to Helen Hunt for her role in As Good as It Gets.

Plot[edit]

Several screens of text giving some background are shown before a bust is shown flying over a palace wall and shattering into countless pieces. The film shows the story of a bereaved Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) and her relationship with a Scottish servant, John Brown (Billy Connolly), and the subsequent uproar it provoked. Brown had been a trusted servant of Victoria's then deceased and beloved Prince Consort, Prince Albert; Victoria's chief servants thought Brown might help to ease an inconsolable Queen since the Prince Consort's death in 1861. In 1863, hoping to subtly coax the Queen toward resuming public life after years of seclusion, Mr. Brown is summoned to court.

The plan succeeds a little too well for the servants' liking, especially Victoria's chief secretary Sir Henry Ponsonby (Geoffrey Palmer) and The Prince of Wales (David Westhead) as well as other members of the Royal family; the public, press and politicians soon come to resent Brown's perceived influence over the queen. Brown takes considerable liberties with court protocol, especially by addressing Her Majesty as "woman". He also quickly takes control over the Queen's daily activities, further aggravating the tensions between himself and the royal family and servants.

The moniker "Mrs. Brown", used both at the time and in the film, implied an improper, and perhaps sexual, relationship. The film does not directly address the contemporary suspicions that the Queen and Brown had had a sexual relationship and perhaps had even secretly married (see the article on Brown), though cartoons from the satirical magazine Punch are shown as being passed around in Parliament (only one of the cartoons is revealed to the camera, showing an empty throne, with the sceptre lying unhanded across it).

As a result of Victoria's virtual recluse, especially at Balmoral Castle in Scotland (something initially encouraged by Brown), her popularity begins failing and republican sentiment begins growing. Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (Antony Sher) has a weakening hold over the House of Commons and a fear of rising anti-monarchical sentiment in the country. He persuades Brown to use his influence with the Queen to persuade her to return to the performance of her public duties, especially the speech from the throne at the impending opening of Parliament.

Brown is reluctant to do so, rightly fearing that Victoria will take this as a personal betrayal. When Brown urges Victoria to return to London and fulfill her public duties, an argument ensues. Feeling betrayed by Brown, the Queen becomes enraged. When Brown once again refers to her as "woman", she sharply rebukes him. Leaving the room, she turns to Ponsonby and Jenner requesting that they serve her needs, clearly reducing Mr. Brown's contact and influence over her. Their relationship was never to be the same again.

The Queen's eventual acquiescence and her decision to return to public life eventually leads to a revitalisation of her popularity and a resurgence in public support of the monarchy.

Brown continues to serve Queen Victoria until his death in 1883. In his final years, his duties become reduced to head of security. The palace staff has become weary of Brown's dogmatic ways and they mock and rebuke his security efforts as paranoid delusions. Finally, during a public event, a gun-wielding assassin appears out of the crowd leaping toward the royal family. An ever-vigilant Brown successfully thwarts the assassination attempt. At dinner the next evening, the Prince of Wales retells the story, bragging to their dinner companions that he had been the one to warn Brown of the assassin. Seeing through her son's bragging, the Queen announces instead that a special medal for bravery, the "Devoted Service Medal," will be minted and awarded to Brown.

Some years later, Brown becomes gravely ill with pneumonia after chasing through the woods late at night searching for a possible intruder. Hearing of Brown's illness, the Queen visits his room and is visibly shaken to see her old friend so ill. Placing a cool damp cloth against Brown's fevered brow, she confesses that she has not been as good a friend as she might have been in recent years. It is clear that her apology is accepted by Brown. The pneumonia proves fatal for Brown and he passes away.

During his years of service, Brown had kept a diary and, upon his passing, Ponsonby and Dr. Jenner discuss its contents stating that it must never be seen by anyone. Holding the diary at his side, Ponsonby walks away and it's implied that the diary will be destroyed or will disappear.

Dr. Jenner also reveals that the Prince of Wales has hurled the Queen's favourite bust of Brown up and over the palace wall, referencing the film's opening sequence.

The film's closing crawl notes that "John Brown's diary was never found."

Cast[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Dame Judi Dench

Billy Connolly

Others

See also[edit]

Films about Queen Victoria

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Mrs. Brown". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 

External links[edit]