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Long Live the Queen! Queen Victoria as a National Icon in Film


Straumann, Barbara (2021). Long Live the Queen! Queen Victoria as a National Icon in Film. In: Keller, Daniela; Habermann, Ina. Brexit and Beyond : Nation and Identity. Tübingen: Narr Francke Attempto, 41-60.

Abstract

How do films about Queen Victoria use the Victorian monarch as a national icon? And how do their representations speak to the present in which they are made? The following contribution focuses on Victoria the Great (1937) and Sixty Glorious Years (1938) by Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle as well as the recent feature film Victoria & Abdul (2017), directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench. Responding to the Abdication Crisis in 1936 and the geopolitical situation in the late 1930s, the first two films construct Queen Victoria as a figure who stands for the stability of the monarchy and, in so doing, unifies the nation as an imagined community. Focusing on the queen’s friendship with her favourite Indian servant Abdul Karim, Frears’s comedy of manners juxtaposes Victoria’s tolerant attitude with the racist bigotry of her royal household. It does so in order to construct the Victorian queen as a benign monarch but, in so doing, promulgates a spirit of imperialist nostalgia. Created in the context of the Brexit debate, Dench’s sovereign thus represents a national figure that is inseparable from a problematic longing for an imperial past.

Abstract

How do films about Queen Victoria use the Victorian monarch as a national icon? And how do their representations speak to the present in which they are made? The following contribution focuses on Victoria the Great (1937) and Sixty Glorious Years (1938) by Herbert Wilcox and Anna Neagle as well as the recent feature film Victoria & Abdul (2017), directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench. Responding to the Abdication Crisis in 1936 and the geopolitical situation in the late 1930s, the first two films construct Queen Victoria as a figure who stands for the stability of the monarchy and, in so doing, unifies the nation as an imagined community. Focusing on the queen’s friendship with her favourite Indian servant Abdul Karim, Frears’s comedy of manners juxtaposes Victoria’s tolerant attitude with the racist bigotry of her royal household. It does so in order to construct the Victorian queen as a benign monarch but, in so doing, promulgates a spirit of imperialist nostalgia. Created in the context of the Brexit debate, Dench’s sovereign thus represents a national figure that is inseparable from a problematic longing for an imperial past.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Book Section, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > English Department
Dewey Decimal Classification:820 English & Old English literatures
Language:English
Date:2021
Deposited On:07 Feb 2022 13:10
Last Modified:23 Aug 2023 13:22
Publisher:Narr Francke Attempto
Series Name:SPELL: Swiss papers in English language and literature
Number:39
ISSN:0940-0478
ISBN:978-3-8233-8414-4
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.5169/seals-919528
Related URLs:https://elibrary.narr.digital/ (Publisher)
Other Identification Number:ganzes Buch: 10.24053/9783823394143 (DOI)
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English