Princess Caraboo (1994)

Princess Caraboo Poster

Bristol, England, early 19th century. A beautiful young stranger who speaks a weird language is tried for the crime of begging. But when a man claims that he can translate her dialect, it is understood that the woman is a princess from a far away land. She is then welcomed by a family of haughty aristocrats that only wants to heighten their prestige. However, the local reporter is not at all convinced she is what she claims to be and investigates. Is Caraboo really a princess?

"Princess Caraboo" is a British-American historic funny drama movie launched in 1994, directed by Michael Austin and starring an ensemble cast that consists of Phoebe Cates, Jim Broadbent, Kevin Kline, and Stephen Rea. The movie is based on the real-life 19th-century character, Princess Caraboo, who fooled English society into thinking she was an unique princess when, in reality, she was a common servant girl.

Phoebe Cates plays the lead function of a young woman, initially determined only by a name she references as "Caraboo". In 1817, she is discovered roaming the streets of Bristol, England, dressed in unique clothing and speaking an unusual language no one can recognize. Having no concept who she is or where she originates from, the residents are captivated by her secret and she is taken in by a wealthy local family, the Worralls, where her exotic attitude and classy good manners make a striking impression.

The Princess Caraboo Ruse
Stephen Rea plays the Greek butler, Frixos, who takes a preference to Caraboo and starts teaching her English. When Caraboo is suspected of being an impostor, Frixos helps craft an elaborate backstory for her - that she is Princess Caraboo from a far-off land, captured by pirates however left by leaping overboard in the Bristol Channel. This story quickly catches the imagination of not simply the Worralls, but also the regional neighborhood and the press. They marvel at Princess Caraboo's foreign habits, her odd language (later recognized as an Indonesian dialect), her ritualistic dances and her efficiency in the sport of fencing, making her the toast of high society.

Piercing the Illusion
Despite her success and approval in society, the mystery of Caraboo's origins brings in scrutiny from numerous characters, including Kevin Kline, who plays a doubting American reporter, the hesitant Lord Marlborough (John Lithgow) and his better half Lady Apthorp (Wendy Hughes). Amid a spectacle of regal ceremonies and public fascination, her true identity as Mary Baker, a servant woman from Witheridge, Devon, is found.

Resolution of the Story
When the reality is revealed, the bubble of fascination bursts and the so-called 'Princess Caraboo' is pursued her deceptiveness, with her newfound society friends deserting her. Nevertheless, at the trial, Mrs. Worrall dramatically vouches for Caraboo's good character and generosity, ensuring her release. In the end, although minimized to her previous social status, Caraboo discovers joy as she accepts a marriage proposition from an earnest suitor and it is revealed that the American reporter has released her story. In an ironical twist, Princess Caraboo becomes a part of history and her story continues to fascinate people, years after her death.

"Princess Caraboo" is a lovely film that offers a special mix of funny, drama, and history. The efficiencies, especially by Cates, Kline, and Broadbent, are extraordinary. The storytelling effectively builds up the secret and fascination around the main character, resulting in an interesting climax. Skillfully discussing styles of identity, deceptiveness, and the attraction of the unique, the movie supplies a captivating view on how a common lady achieved remarkable fame in a conservative English society.

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