I received an invitation to attend a special Oscar screening of a film which said, “the true story of an ordinary man who wins the queen’s heart and starts a revolution.”
Yes, the dream of many men.
Now in this film, which happens to be a very good one, there is indeed a man who wins the queen’s heart. And that is one perspective. But from another point of view, said a different way, it’s also, the true story of an ordinary man who secretly sleeps with his close-friend’s wife, in this case, the close-friend of the ordinary man, being the King.
So, in one telling, the ordinary man is a hero and the other, for secretly sleeping with his close-friend’s wife, he’s a scoundrel or worse. So it’s all very much the perspective and point of view from which something is told.
I forget which screenwriting teacher explained it thus; if we are watching a film and we meet a pelican looking for his dinner and he searches and searches, and finally dives from the sky and grabs a fish from under the water, we are happy the pelican has found his dinner. Contrary wise, if we start our film on close-up of a happy fish, swimming in a school of fish-friends in the sea, and suddenly out of nowhere our friend the fish is snatched by a sharp beak from above, we see the Pelican as the villain.
So it’s all point of view and perspective.
But back to this..”the true story of an ordinary man who wins the queen’s heart and starts a revolution.” It leads one to think that this is the ordinary man’s story. But when I saw the film, I thought it was the queen’s story. Why, I must ask, are stories about strong women always re-framed to be about the men?
Perhaps, because the Queen’s perspective would sell less tickets; it is a story of a beautiful, bright and intelligent Queen, in a terrible arranged love-less marriage, who, upon meeting an attractive ordinary man (in the exciting process of starting a revolution), cheats repeatedly on her husband, the King, who oddly doesn’t mind all that much.
Whatever that advertising copy, It’s a great film from Denmark: THE ROYAL AFFAIR.