The Abdication is a period film in more ways than one. The Ruth Wolff script from her play, based on the 17th-century abdication of Queen Christina of Sweden, has been directed by Anthony Harvey, like a trite 1930s sob-sister meller, with dainty debauchery and titillating tease straight from 1920s women’s pulp magazines.
Peter Finch plays a Vatican-based Cardinal assigned to investigate the background and the motivations of Liv Ullmann, who has quit her throne after converting to Roman Catholicism late in 1655.
Ullmann’s early life was a mess: her kindly father (Edward Underdown) died when she was six: her mother (Kathleen Byron) was a horror; she was reared as a boy; and chancellor Cyril Cusack keeps chiding her on her queenly duties.
Michael Dunn, engaged as queen Ullmann’s dwarf companion, died during Pinewood Studios shooting, and the covering substitute is too different to escape casual notice.