Mrs. Brown


1h 43m 1997

Brief Synopsis

Queen Victoria risks scandal because of her loyalty to a Scottish groundskeeper who saved her life.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Historical
Period
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
MIRAMAX
Location
Scotland, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m

Synopsis

Set in 1864, the Court and Government are in turmoil. Queen Victoria remains stricken with grief over Prince Albert's death and refuses to carry out any public duties. Her popularity with the British people is waning and there are calls to abolish the Monarchy. As a last resort Sir Henry Ponsonby, the Queen's Private Secretary, summons John Brown, her loyal Scottish Attendant, down from Balmoral to walk the Queen's pony. Brown's arrival at Court is the beginning of extraordinary relationship. Rumours of an affair begin to scandalize polite society and a crisis in the Monarchy seems inevitable.

Crew

Kim Armitage

Script Supervisor

Stephen Barker

Post-Production Supervisor

Frances Bennett

Assistant Art Director

Hilary Benson

Production Manager

Robert Bernstein

Other Writer

Beverly Binda

Hairdresser

David Bourke

Electrician

Paul Bradburn

Props

Andy Bradford

Stunts

Veronica Brebner

Makeup Artist

Jeremy Brock

Screenplay

Robert Brown

Construction Manager

Simon Brown

Sound

Roland Caine

Location Manager

Andrea Calderwood

Executive Producer

Francesca Castellano

Post-Production Coordinator

Martin Childs

Production Designer

Deirdre Clancy

Costume Designer

Alistair Crocker

Sound Mixer

Sarah Curtis

Producer

Julian Day

Costumes

Paul Decsarnatony

Props

Tom Delmar

Stunts

Helen Dolan

Other

John Downer

Sound Editor

Gill Ducker

Other

Mick Duffield

Other

Rebecca Eaton

Executive Producer

Mitchell Edwards

Driver

Owen Dudley Edwards

Consultant

Pat Garrett

Grip

Joe Gibbs

Location Manager

Richard Greatrex

Director Of Photography

Lynne Greenshields

Accounting Assistant

Michelle Guish

Casting

Tony Harding

Special Effects

Tony Haslam

Gaffer

Paul Hedges

Props

Kenny Hutchinson

Advisor

Ian Jackson

Best Boy

Debbie Kaye

Animal Wrangler

Vincent Keane

Stunts

Margaret Knights

Consultant

Olivia Lloyd

Assistant Director

Phil Lonergan

Stunts

Tony Lucken

Stunts

Suzanne Lynch

Assistant Director

Penny Madden

Graphic Designer

Alexandra Mcintosh

Other

Sarah Morton

Dialogue Editor

Ray Perry

Props

Alistair Rae

Steadicam Operator

Douglas Rae

Executive Producer

Lorraine Richards

Costumes

Seon Rogers

Stunts

George Rosie

From Story

Marie Ross

Costumes

Deborah Saban

Assistant Director

Jonathan Sales

Assistant Editor

Robin Sales

Editor

Paul Sarony

Associate Producer

Rupert Scrivener

Dubbing Mixer

Deborah Smith

Other

Shellie Smith

Post-Production Supervisor

Richard Stanley

Props

Jamie Summers

Electrician

David Christopher Taylor

Electrician

Mark Tillie

Photography

Claire Tovey

Location Manager

Stephen Warbeck

Music

Ros Ward

Wardrobe Supervisor

Nigel Warren-green

Executive Producer

Stuart Watson

Construction Manager

Charlotte Watts

Art Director

Lisa Westcott

Makeup

Lorna Will

Camera

David Williams

Carpenter

Susanna Wyatt

Production Accountant

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Romance
Drama
Historical
Period
Release Date
1997
Distribution Company
MIRAMAX
Location
Scotland, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m

Award Nominations

Best Actress

1997
Judi Dench

Best Makeup

1997

Articles

Mrs. Brown


Based on true events, John Madden's 1997 drama Mrs. Brown stars Dame Judi Dench as England's Queen Victoria in a riveting Academy Award-nominated performance. The story takes place just after the death of Victoria's beloved husband, Prince Albert. The grieving Queen is inconsolable, keeping to herself and neglecting her royal duties. John Brown (Billy Connolly), a servant stationed at the Queen's Scottish estate, is called in to help. Brown's irreverent approach to the imperious Queen and blatant disregard for protocol ruffles many feathers. However, the two soon develop a strong, if unlikely, bond. Featuring first rate performances and gorgeous location scenery, Mrs. Brown is a poignant and unconventional love story.

Mrs. Brown was originally intended to be a television project for the BBC. Ecosse Films, an independent production company, pitched the idea to the BBC with Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly attached to star as John Brown. Ecosse Managing Director Douglas Rae sent actress Judi Dench an early draft of the screenplay written by Jeremy Brock in hopes she might be interested in playing the title role.

Dench agreed to meet with Douglas Rae and Jeremy Brock to discuss the project. According to John Miller's authorized 2000 biography Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice, "Before they could open their mouths, she opened her Filofax and said, 'When do we start?' Then Douglas Rae told her, 'But I want you to know that Billy Connolly's first choice for Queen Victoria is Bob Hoskins.' Judi said, 'That's all right, it quite suits me to be Bob Hoskins' understudy.'"

Dench and Billy Connolly met for the first time over lunch to discuss the film, and the unlikely pair clicked immediately. They admired each others' work and, according to John Miller, "They shared a sense of humor and an appreciation of the absurd, which kept them, and everyone else, in a state of permanent hilarity off-set, and quite often on it, too."

Judi Dench's real life daughter Finty Williams was cast as Princess Helena, one of Queen Victoria's daughters. Rounding out the distinguished cast were Geoffrey Palmer as Henry Ponsonby, Antony Sher as Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and Gerard Butler, in his feature film debut, as John Brown's brother Archie.

The five week shoot for Mrs. Brown was on a tight schedule and met with several challenges. Many of the Scottish locations were difficult to reach, the weather was wildly unpredictable and the horses used in several outdoor scenes weren't always agreeable. For instance, in one pivotal scene during which Queen Victoria expresses her emotional attachment to Mr. Brown, Judi Dench was supposed to dismount from her horse. "The process of getting Judi off the horse with the voluminous skirts and underskirts," said director John Madden, "took care of about ten takes, horse-farts took care of another five, one horse bit another, and then it pushed Judi out of shot. At last we thought it had all really happened perfectly, until she walked away and her costume caught on [Connolly's] radio mike, so they were attached to each other. We went to twenty-one takes before we finally got it."

Despite the difficulties, Judi Dench was a true professional and never complained. To John Madden, Dench was a director's dream. Madden noted during the making of Mrs. Brown that he had "a very strong sense of where the scene was going to be emotionally, with the music of the lines in my head, but Judi always transcended that, particularly in the quiet moments, the moments between the lines where she is so astonishing. If you notice how her eyes move on screen, they register a fluidity of emotion, and the energy within her in every frame was so dynamic that I was never forced to cut where I didn't want to."

Co-star Billy Connolly shared Madden's admiration for Dench. Connolly, who was known primarily as a comedy star, was not a trained dramatic actor and was challenging himself to step outside of his comfort zone with Mrs. Brown. "When I read 'be real, don't get caught acting,'" said Connolly, "I thought, 'How the hell do you do that?' It wasn't until I worked with Judi that I realized what that meant. In the first scene when we met at Osborne she was remarkably real. We'd been laughing in the morning, and then she showed this grief for Albert which was so unbelievably real. She just carried me along in her slipstream. You could only react in kind."

Dench and Connolly worked well together and became friends during the shoot. When filming was complete, the two exchanged gifts. Connolly gave Dench a brooch, which writer John Miller described as "a wonderfully garish crown in colored glass." "She gave me," said Connolly, "a wee embroidered velvet cushion, which I'll treasure all my life, with 'To J.B. from V.R.' stitched onto it."

Although Mrs. Brown had been originally set to air on television, the quality of the film was so high that Miramax, the highly successful American film distributor, picked it up for a theatrical release. Its subsequent success with audiences and critics alike exceeded everyone's expectations and increased Dench's visibility to international audiences. "Dench brings her commanding stature and superb elocution to the multi-nuanced role of a strong but vulnerable woman," said the Variety review. "Though there are a number of outdoor scenes and production values are handsome, ultimately it's the narrow focus and chamber nature of the material that lends the movie its resonance and emotional power."

The New York Times said, "The role of John Brown is so robustly played by Billy Connolly, a bright-eyed, delightful Scotsman better known for stand-up comedy, that his appeal to the queen is eminently clear. And the film, directed by John Madden and written by Jeremy Brock with penetrating acuity, also sees the exquisite tension between Victoria's wishes and her obligations. That the Queen could not possibly have acted on her desires makes the film's subtlety that much more compelling."

Mrs. Brown received two Academy Award nominations: one for Best Makeup and the other for Judi Dench as Best Actress. It was her first of what was to be many Academy Award nominations. She enjoyed the chaotic whirlwind surrounding the ceremony even though she lost the Oscar® to Helen Hunt. "I didn't expect for a minute to win," she said, "and I didn't feel one single twinge of anything. The whole thing is amazingly tatty, and absurd, and we had a wonderful time, I wouldn't have missed it for anything."

Producer: Sarah Curtis
Director: John Madden
Screenplay: Jeremy Brock
Cinematography: Richard Greatrex
Art Direction: Charlotte Watts
Music: Stephen Warbeck
Film Editing: Robin Sales
Cast: Judi Dench (Queen Victoria), Billy Connolly (John Brown), Geoffrey Palmer (Henry Ponsonby), Antony Sher (Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli), Gerard Butler (Archie Brown), Richard Pasco (Doctor Jenner), David Westhead (Prince of Wales, Bertie), Bridget McConnell (Lady Ely), Georgie Glen (Lady Churchill), Catherine O'Donnell (Lady-in-Waiting), Sara Stewart (Princess Alexandra), Finty Williams (Princess Helena).
C-105m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Andrea Passafiume
Mrs. Brown

Mrs. Brown

Based on true events, John Madden's 1997 drama Mrs. Brown stars Dame Judi Dench as England's Queen Victoria in a riveting Academy Award-nominated performance. The story takes place just after the death of Victoria's beloved husband, Prince Albert. The grieving Queen is inconsolable, keeping to herself and neglecting her royal duties. John Brown (Billy Connolly), a servant stationed at the Queen's Scottish estate, is called in to help. Brown's irreverent approach to the imperious Queen and blatant disregard for protocol ruffles many feathers. However, the two soon develop a strong, if unlikely, bond. Featuring first rate performances and gorgeous location scenery, Mrs. Brown is a poignant and unconventional love story. Mrs. Brown was originally intended to be a television project for the BBC. Ecosse Films, an independent production company, pitched the idea to the BBC with Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly attached to star as John Brown. Ecosse Managing Director Douglas Rae sent actress Judi Dench an early draft of the screenplay written by Jeremy Brock in hopes she might be interested in playing the title role. Dench agreed to meet with Douglas Rae and Jeremy Brock to discuss the project. According to John Miller's authorized 2000 biography Judi Dench: With a Crack in Her Voice, "Before they could open their mouths, she opened her Filofax and said, 'When do we start?' Then Douglas Rae told her, 'But I want you to know that Billy Connolly's first choice for Queen Victoria is Bob Hoskins.' Judi said, 'That's all right, it quite suits me to be Bob Hoskins' understudy.'" Dench and Billy Connolly met for the first time over lunch to discuss the film, and the unlikely pair clicked immediately. They admired each others' work and, according to John Miller, "They shared a sense of humor and an appreciation of the absurd, which kept them, and everyone else, in a state of permanent hilarity off-set, and quite often on it, too." Judi Dench's real life daughter Finty Williams was cast as Princess Helena, one of Queen Victoria's daughters. Rounding out the distinguished cast were Geoffrey Palmer as Henry Ponsonby, Antony Sher as Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and Gerard Butler, in his feature film debut, as John Brown's brother Archie. The five week shoot for Mrs. Brown was on a tight schedule and met with several challenges. Many of the Scottish locations were difficult to reach, the weather was wildly unpredictable and the horses used in several outdoor scenes weren't always agreeable. For instance, in one pivotal scene during which Queen Victoria expresses her emotional attachment to Mr. Brown, Judi Dench was supposed to dismount from her horse. "The process of getting Judi off the horse with the voluminous skirts and underskirts," said director John Madden, "took care of about ten takes, horse-farts took care of another five, one horse bit another, and then it pushed Judi out of shot. At last we thought it had all really happened perfectly, until she walked away and her costume caught on [Connolly's] radio mike, so they were attached to each other. We went to twenty-one takes before we finally got it." Despite the difficulties, Judi Dench was a true professional and never complained. To John Madden, Dench was a director's dream. Madden noted during the making of Mrs. Brown that he had "a very strong sense of where the scene was going to be emotionally, with the music of the lines in my head, but Judi always transcended that, particularly in the quiet moments, the moments between the lines where she is so astonishing. If you notice how her eyes move on screen, they register a fluidity of emotion, and the energy within her in every frame was so dynamic that I was never forced to cut where I didn't want to." Co-star Billy Connolly shared Madden's admiration for Dench. Connolly, who was known primarily as a comedy star, was not a trained dramatic actor and was challenging himself to step outside of his comfort zone with Mrs. Brown. "When I read 'be real, don't get caught acting,'" said Connolly, "I thought, 'How the hell do you do that?' It wasn't until I worked with Judi that I realized what that meant. In the first scene when we met at Osborne she was remarkably real. We'd been laughing in the morning, and then she showed this grief for Albert which was so unbelievably real. She just carried me along in her slipstream. You could only react in kind." Dench and Connolly worked well together and became friends during the shoot. When filming was complete, the two exchanged gifts. Connolly gave Dench a brooch, which writer John Miller described as "a wonderfully garish crown in colored glass." "She gave me," said Connolly, "a wee embroidered velvet cushion, which I'll treasure all my life, with 'To J.B. from V.R.' stitched onto it." Although Mrs. Brown had been originally set to air on television, the quality of the film was so high that Miramax, the highly successful American film distributor, picked it up for a theatrical release. Its subsequent success with audiences and critics alike exceeded everyone's expectations and increased Dench's visibility to international audiences. "Dench brings her commanding stature and superb elocution to the multi-nuanced role of a strong but vulnerable woman," said the Variety review. "Though there are a number of outdoor scenes and production values are handsome, ultimately it's the narrow focus and chamber nature of the material that lends the movie its resonance and emotional power." The New York Times said, "The role of John Brown is so robustly played by Billy Connolly, a bright-eyed, delightful Scotsman better known for stand-up comedy, that his appeal to the queen is eminently clear. And the film, directed by John Madden and written by Jeremy Brock with penetrating acuity, also sees the exquisite tension between Victoria's wishes and her obligations. That the Queen could not possibly have acted on her desires makes the film's subtlety that much more compelling." Mrs. Brown received two Academy Award nominations: one for Best Makeup and the other for Judi Dench as Best Actress. It was her first of what was to be many Academy Award nominations. She enjoyed the chaotic whirlwind surrounding the ceremony even though she lost the Oscar® to Helen Hunt. "I didn't expect for a minute to win," she said, "and I didn't feel one single twinge of anything. The whole thing is amazingly tatty, and absurd, and we had a wonderful time, I wouldn't have missed it for anything." Producer: Sarah Curtis Director: John Madden Screenplay: Jeremy Brock Cinematography: Richard Greatrex Art Direction: Charlotte Watts Music: Stephen Warbeck Film Editing: Robin Sales Cast: Judi Dench (Queen Victoria), Billy Connolly (John Brown), Geoffrey Palmer (Henry Ponsonby), Antony Sher (Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli), Gerard Butler (Archie Brown), Richard Pasco (Doctor Jenner), David Westhead (Prince of Wales, Bertie), Bridget McConnell (Lady Ely), Georgie Glen (Lady Churchill), Catherine O'Donnell (Lady-in-Waiting), Sara Stewart (Princess Alexandra), Finty Williams (Princess Helena). C-105m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. by Andrea Passafiume

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the 1997 award for Best Actress (Judi Dench) from the Chicago Film Critics Association.

Winner of the biennial British Academy of Film and Television Arts' 1996-1997 BAFTA Scotland Awards for best actress (Judi Dench).

Released in United States Summer July 18, 1997

Limited Release in United States July 25, 1997

Expanded Release in United States August 8, 1997

Released in United States on Video April 21, 1998

Released in United States 1997

Released in United States August 1997

Released in United States 1998

Shown at Filmfest Hamburg (Britain Swings) September 25 - October 2, 1997.

Shown at Seattle International Film Festival (Closing Night) May 15 - June 8, 1997.

Shown at Wellington Film Festival in New Zealand July 16 - August 2, 1997.

Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival August 10-24, 1997.

Shown at American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California February 26 - March 6, 1998.

Released in United States Summer July 18, 1997

Limited Release in United States July 25, 1997

Expanded Release in United States August 8, 1997

Released in United States on Video April 21, 1998

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Filmfest Hamburg (Britain Swings) September 25 - October 2, 1997.)

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Seattle International Film Festival (Closing Night) May 15 - June 8, 1997.)

Released in United States August 1997 (Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival August 10-24, 1997.)

Released in United States 1998 (Shown at American Film Market (AFM) in Santa Monica, California February 26 - March 6, 1998.)

Released in United States 1997 (Shown at Wellington Film Festival in New Zealand July 16 - August 2, 1997.)