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Peter T Chattaway

Victoria & Abdul

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Remember how Peter O'Toole played King Henry II in two completely different films, made by completely different directors and based on plays by completely different playwrights? To quote what I wrote at my blog over a decade ago:

"The films were made only four years apart, but O’Toole seems a heck of a lot older in the later film. The first movie spans two decades, beginning prior to Becket’s rise to the Chancellorship in 1155 and ending with Becket’s murder in 1170, and setting the story between a prologue and epilogue that take place in 1174. Henry is no more than 22 when the story begins, and 41 when the final scene ends — and O’Toole was 31 when the movie came out, so he was perfectly suited to play both ends of that spectrum.

"The second movie covers just a few days circa Christmas 1183, when Henry was a couple months shy of 51 — and when that movie came out, O’Toole was 36. But thanks to some effective make-up and the gravitas of his performance, he looks and feels every bit the character’s age. The fun-loving, overgrown adolescent of Becket, whose heart can be broken by a close friend, has given way to a much more bitter and cynical (but still very temperamental) man — and one who is all too aware of his looming mortality."

Judi Dench seems to be doing something similar with Queen Victoria now. In 1997, when she was 62, she starred in Mrs. Brown, which spans 1863 to 1883 (when Victoria was 44 to 64) -- and now that she is 82, she is starring in Victoria & Abdul, which will apparently take place sometime between 1887 and 1901 (when Victoria was 68 to her death at 81).


Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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