64 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2003
This is the latest in a series of marvellous pieces of television ("Caught on a Train", "Shooting the Past" and "Perfect Strangers") written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff; It tells two interlinked stories.
The first is the tale of how the splendid monarchies and Empires of the Edwardian age - with all their privileges and wealth, their gloriously Ruritanian uniforms and lavish banquets - were destroyed by the slaughter that was World War 1. All except the British Empire, that is, and that by the skin of its teeth. The momentous events of that time are seen through the eyes of Prince John, the Lost Prince of the title.
The second is the sad story of Prince John himself (Matthew Thomas), youngest son of King George V (Tom Hollander)and Queen Mary (Miranda Richardson). Epileptic, probably mildly autistic and suffering from what a modern psychologist or social worker would refer to as "learning difficulties",Prince John is a charming, simple soul with a flair for gardening and a very direct way with words "That man's got a big head" he says of Asquith (Frank Finlay), the Prime Minister. Gradually Prince John's behaviour and propensity to epileptic fits lead to him being kept(in the eyes of the King and Queen, for the very best of reasons) in deeper and deeper isolation. When he dies - tragically young - he is living in a remote farmhouse on the Sandringham estate.
In part, then, a story of the great events of the first two decdaes of the twentieth century and in part a biography of an almost-unknown royal. If Poliakoff had left it there it would have been a good, interesting bit of television. But where "The Lost Prince" moves into the category of great television, is with the relationships that we witness here. Johnnie and his father , the increasingly out-of- his- depth King with no time for his youngest son; Johnnnie and his mother - marvellously played by Miranda Richardson - who genuinely tries to do her best by him but cannot help behaving with unconscious cruelty towards him; Johnnie and the doomed children of the Tsar, Johnnie and his extended family of kings, the Kaiser, Dukes, Archdukes and the rest. Most poignant of all Johnnie and Georgie ( Rollo Weeks) his slightly older brother, later the Duke of Kent, and Johnnie and Lala, (Gina McKee), his nanny. Both, the prince and the nanny, love and protect Prince John, both believe in him and see qualities in him which the more powerful and worldly characters miss - except in one glorious moment towards the end of the film. Both are splendidly acted, touching and sympathetic characters.
Finally I must say a word about the photography. Brilliant camera work is a hallmark of all of Poliakoff's films and "The Lost Prince" is no exception. The majestic, sumptuous pre-war banquet, lavishly shot from above and the parallel, austerity dinner during the war; the royal progress of Prince John on horseback followed by his household; the Tsar swimming in a Russian lake while his generals wait to see whether they will be ordered to mobilise; the Romanov family being butchered. These scenes are so beautifully photographed they are more like classic oil paintings than TV.
All in all a DVD to own and to treasure. Like Poliakoff's earlier work it is destined, I believe, to be regarded as a classic.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2005
The Lost Prince is a spectuacular and moving drama charting the life of the little-known Prince John, son of King George V and Queen Mary. We see John and his brother George growing up in the Imperial splendour of Edward VII's court and see the changes that take place during the First World War. John, an epileptic, is kept away from the public eye with his devoted nurse, Lalla (portrayed wonderfully by Gina McKee). John is increasingly isolated from the world, and when the war begins his parents have no time for him. Only his brother George, and his adoring grandmother Queen Alexandra (Bibi Andersson - a wonderful and accurate portrayel) remember him. His parents, King George V and Queen Mary, are very stressed and are forced to pretty much abandon him. As Lalla struggles to remind them that John is a real prince, the Romanovs are murdured and the war in Europe ends. I challenge anyone to watch this and not feel sad at the ending. The drama had wonderful actors - Miranda Richardson is the very embodiment of Queen Mary, Tom Hollander is convincing as George V, and the contrast between him and his father, Edward VII (Michael Gambdon) is clear from the start. Great Stuff!
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2003
I am a sixteen year old male and crying when watching a movie is very much a rarity for me but I'm quite happy to admit that I was extremely tearful at the very ending, which I won't spoil for those who may not yet have watched it but will say that it was beautifully done and anyone who is not at least touched by it clearly are incapable of compassion.
This film touched me on a number of levels and I felt myself connecting to many of the characters and relating them, which I'm sure everyone is likely to find. Every character was very well acted, if not necessarily accurately portrayed in every case.
Also it is true that a very important part of history is included (World War One) and this will definitely interest many historians who I'm sure will be able to point out numerous inacuracies but to me this does not matter a bit. In many ways it will always be fiction like almost every other movie we've seen because it was only a movie... second hand evidence and about a Prince who was clearly hidden so well that the exact true story of his life is something we'll never really know. What touched me was the stories, which are (I hope) true... About a loving brother and a devoted maid and the Prince who just happened to be "different". There was so much love in that story, it's unbelievable... Also, Prince John's brother's last words about him at the end of the film really sum up his life as it was portrayed in The Lost Prince... Again, I won't spoil it but to find out those words you'll have to watch it! And you definitely should as soon as you can...
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2003
Having watched the final part of The Lost Prince on BBC1 last night, I felt compelled to visit Amazon and buy the DVD release. Words cannot describe the joy I experienced from viewing this fantastic drama.
With two main leads in the form of Miranda Richardson and Tom Hollander, the roles of Queen Mary and George V could not have been played better or with more conviction.
Telling the story of the harrowing events of the Great War through the eyes of young Prince Johnnie, writer/Director Stephen Poliakoff has managed to render a great tapestry of a tale with nothing short of majesty.
From the initial family gathering at Sandringham where Tzar Nicholas II ordered the formation of his Russian troops, to the subsequent retaliation by the Megalomaniac Kaiser and Britain's emergence into the 1st World War, we follow Johnnie and his journey from house to house - struggling against his epilepsy and yearning for the companionship of his beloved brother Georgie.
What conviction Miranda Richardson conveys in her portrayal of a queen torn between her country and the want to do right by her son. Tom Hollander and George V's amazing plummet of emotions as he hears the fate of the Russian royal family was visually stunning and breathtaking.
And last but not least, Prince John himself, the Lost Prince, hidden away from prying eyes due to his illnesses but determined to enjoy his life.
I cannot recommend this highly enough.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2006
Anyone having visited Sandringham Church in Norfolk, and seeing the grave of Prince John have wondered about his short life. This drama stunningly recreates the time he grew up in and the ordeals and illness he had to deal with; the possible epilepsy and learning diffculties.
The drama is top quality! The scripts, costumes, settings and casting were all brilliant. The commentary on this DVD is a fascinating feature; with the director taking the viewer through the two parts, not just with on-screen information, but also huge amounts of historical information that he researched and why he changed certain things and adapted pieces of history in the way he chose.
The acting is of the highest order; in particular, Miranda Richardson is fantastic as Queen Mary, and Gina McKee is brilliant as Prince John's nanny Lalla. There are excellent performances by Tom Hollander as George V and Michael Gambon as Edward VII also.
This two part drama will fascinate you and move you to tears, as the young John battles on with his life, mostly unaware of his disabilities. Stunning piece!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2006
Oustanding!.....an excellent insight into a turbulent world through the eyes of a young prince (son of George V and Queen Mary). What makes it more intriguing is the fact that this poor prince (Johnnie) is kept hidden from away the public and aristorcracy alike due to his severe fits of epilepsy. This was, at the time, not deemed fitting for a member of the Royal Family. Excellent perfomances from two of Britains greatest acting talents with Miranda Richardson as Queen Mary and Gina Mckee as Johnnie's devoted nurse Lalla. Another superb production from Stephen Poliakoff and the BBC......and, might I add, a bit of a tear-jerker (well it moved me to tears).
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
This is a very touching tale of a lost 'footnote' from history - some histories of the British royal family come with handy genealogy charts, showing the progress of royals through the ages in graphic format. Often, the younger children, the 'also rans' of the royal story, are left off the charts, unless they attained fame some other way, or unless they married well. For those royal children who died in infancy or childhood, history is most unkind - they aren't even in the footnotes or indices. Such is often the case for young Prince John - born with a disability that presented like epilepsy, he was (according to the custom of the time) kept out of the public eye. Being rather low on the pecking order, he likely never would have attracted much attention, but with his disability, in a world that did not quite know how to regard those with disabilities, he was indeed an outcast, however royal.
The teleplay shows an interplay of the private life of Prince John and his caregivers, particularly the deeply devoted servant and nanny, Lalla, and the public life of the royal family, as their lives became increasingly complex and involved in public duties due to the outbreak of the first world war. The private life concentrates both on John and Lalla, as well as John and George, another of the younger royal children, close in age to John. George went through the typical royal upbringing of boarding schools with a military emphasis; he was as out-of-place in that world as John was in the stuffy, rigidly-controlled royal world. The camaraderie between George and John was touchingly portrayed in two different age brackets - one of early childhood (Daniel Williams playing John, and Brock-Everitt-Elwick playing George), and one of early adolescence (Matthew Thomas playing Johh, and Rollo Weeks playing George). John, with his lack of inhibitions and oversized features (part of his disability) would occasionally make a truthful-if-not-quite-diplomatic statement, sometimes to a visiting royal, sometimes to the Prime Minister or other such dignitary.
John's expression in life was done through art, music, and physical movements and expression. He made paintings that showed a rather unique way of looking at the world, often over-emphasising details (such as crowns). He also cared passionately for his gardens, working for hours at a time among the flowers and other plants. Lalla (lovingly portrayed by Gina McKee) encouraged him, seeing in him more substance that doctors could with their brief examinations, and more than could his own parents, who rarely exhibited affection to John (or each other, or anyone else).
It was a tense time in the world. King George V (Tom Hollander) and his wife, the regal and inflexible Queen Mary (Miranda Richardson) tried desperately to navigate through a world becoming distinctly unfriendly toward royalty; just a generation prior, their family through Victoria's connections reigned in almost every major and many minor countries in Europe, which at that time through colonialism dominated the world; by the end of World War II, few monarchies were left, and those that were had no power or authority of their own. One of the mistakes of the monarchs, brought out in this teleplay, was the assumption that they still had power. In actual fact, they rarely even had influence.
The scenes with the Russian royal family are interesting to note the similarities and differences between the ideas of royalty; the political leaders, too, are portrayed in somewhat flat but interesting characterisations. Yet, as one other commentator has mentioned, the truly outstanding moment of the drama comes near the end, when John gets to give his performance for the family, and causes the family to reflect on their fortunes - after all, they were still there, silly. Unlike the Russian royals, dead from the revolutionaries; unlike the German and Austrian royals, driven from office by the war; unlike countless other royal persons throughout Europe, dead or in exile from the aftermath, the British royal family (with its newly-minted British name) survived intact, if not in power. One does indeed doubt the historicity of John's final performance for the family, but one can hope that it, or something like it, did indeed occur.
The sets, costumes, and music are very well crafted and appropriately selected for this teleplay. This is a programme I shall revisit again and again. Despite all life's troubles, after all, we're still here, silly.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2004
I defy anyone who professes to have any kind of soul not to have a tear or two whelling up in the final scenes of this stunning drama. Even if you're not normally a fan of preiod costume dramas you simply have to try this one. A superb piece of work from Stephen Poliakoff with a haunting soundtrack from Adrian Johnston - simply buy it!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 December 2012
Beautiful graphics. The acting is superb. I have watched this movie several times and never tire of it. A wonderful peek into lives and times we know so little of and can only imagine. It's hard to imagine living under such a restricted and regimented lifestyle. Even the Royal's had their problems...a child with epilepsy...who was all but hidden away from prying eyes (even from his own family). Gina McKee is marvelous as Prince John's nanny, caretaker, mother-figure who devoted her whole life to him. Miranda Richardson is wonderful as Queen Alexandra, the distant and rather cold mother (understandably dictated by the times); but, yet, we are shown the human, loving side of her also.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2011
Stephen Poliakoff who wrote ans directed this wondeful made for Television drama is now a firm favourite of ours,
so much so we are purchasing others of his work.
Beautifully shot and realized and about the forgotten Prince incorporates the World events at the time together with this touching
tale with some magnificent acting, Miranda Richardson, Michael Gamgon and Gina McKee shine in their roles, at the end I found it difficult to beleive anything such as this could be so good. With so much rubbish coming out of America thanks goodness
these are available from Amazon