Sunday, April 24, 2011

994. The Queen (2006)

Running Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Stephen Frears
Written By: Peter Morgan
Main Cast: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Helen McCrory, Alex Jennings


So I watched "The King's Speech" the other night and while I stave off my opinions until the monthly recap next week, I will say that it got me interested in the royal monarchy and the history of the throne. Alas, I went to the book and what better film to follow up that rising interest than "The Queen", so here we go...

Tony Blair (Sheen) has just been elected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and his first step is to seek the Queen's approval. The Queen, in this case, is Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren), whom despite her qualms about Blair, gives him well wishes. Her qualms rise from Blair's promise to modernise the nation, although he plans to stay respect the Royal Family. Some time passes and August 31, 1997 arrives and with it, brings the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. From here the film shows how both sides, the Queen and Blair, deal with the tragedy. The Queen chooses to ignore the hubbub and decides it best to take Diana's sons, Harry and William, on a vacation so that they will not be consumed by the media circus, as well as choosing to hold a private funeral. Tony Blair, on the other hand believes that the funeral should be public and that the nation needs a chance to get closure and grieve for the "People's Princess", as Diana is dubbed. Blair, always keeping utmost respect, urges the Queen through several phone calls, to return to England and be with the nation in their time of grief. The Queen wants no part of the frenzy, mainly because she wasn't a supporter of Princess Di and was still holding ill feelings toward her at the time of her death.

The film seemed to flow along nicely and there was never a time when I was staring at the clock and wondering if this film was near end. However, even in retrospect, I'm left pondering if they even had enough material to make a film out of all this. The film deals very little with the actual car crash that ultimately killed Diana and spends the majority of its running time dealing with the aftermath. It just doesn't seem "film-worthy", but then again, I'm an American and I'm really not familiar with the circus that arose following the Queen's death or how big of an impact it had on the U.K.

Other than that, I thought the film was fine. It quenched my thirst for some more British history and served its purpose in providing me with a good film to sink my teeth into. It also quite changed my opinion of Tony Blair, whom I've always considered George W. Bush's lackey. I can still see images of Blair and Bush in my head, from the news as the second Iraq war was being waged and always thought Tony Blair looked like a bit of a rat. If the film portrayed him accurately, then he was obviously a stand-up P.M. and deserves credit for holding England together in the crisis that took place in 1997.

Looking over the nominees list from the Academy Awards ceremony of 2007, it seems that Helen Mirren did deserve the Oscar, based on the list of other potential winners. I wouldn't say Mirren blew me away or anything, but she did a fine job of transforming herself and holding herself in such prominence as to portray a Queen. Otherwise, this is a fine film, with not a lot of substance, but an unbiased look at the aftermath that would occur following the death of Princess Diana. The film never asks us to choose sides, but simply presents the story, as it were, and lets us make our own opinions about how certain people behaved.

RATING: 7/10 A fine film, that neither blew me away or left me bored. That is all.


April 24, 2011 3:24pm
Happy Easter

1 comment:

  1. Thats a good point you make.. 'The film never asks you to take sides'..
    I actually enjoyed this, and maybe becausen of what you said there.. this is not part of the 'St. Diana' industry, but shows aspects of peoples behaviour and how actions and motives can be seen by others.
    At thye time I just loved the image you chose.. the Queen reading 'The Guardian'. For the information of Non-Brits, the Guardian is an independant, run by a trust ( so well out of the clutches of Murdoch) somewhat left leaning liberal 'broadsheet' newspaper. (it's the only place that carries 'Doonesbury'). Several of the columnists will be decidedly republican. (Dear Americans, please remember that in Europe 'Republican' means very left wing)


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...