Posted by: da_nibbler | January 10, 2009

The Queen

I didnt really know what this film was about other than the Queen of England and that apparently Helen Mirren was doing a great job. So I had to see it. But I had no idea that it was about the Lady Di incident in 1997 and how the Royal Family and England (and the rest of the world) reacted to it.

Stephen Frears does an amazing job blending archive footage with his film and gives the viewer the feeling he is watching real life events transpire. Dealing with the matter in a tasteful and sensitive manner you get a behind-the-scenes look at the Royal Family and the newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair after the death of Lady Di in Paris. Just alone for the history lesson this film is worth watching.

The Royal Family is definitely depicted as callous and cold about the matter mostly brought to the foreground by James Cromwell’s Prince Phillip, who says things others might not even dare to think. On the other side, in Blairs camp, we have his wife and aide who often state just how horrible the Royals are and would love to see them gone. There are good and bad ones in either camp, but overall the Royals dont look too good. Even though their actions are porttrayed in a way that makes them easily understandable it is absolutely beyond me how an intelligent person like the Queen can not come to graps with the fact that the world and its people have changed in 50 years. But then again who knows whether the depiction in this film is actually accurate.

During the film you can forget you are actually watching a film as the blending of archive footage works perfectly with the shot footage by Frears. Grounding the film in reality with always playing the news footage in the background you cant help but feel you are watching actual events unfold (even though the actor playing Charles doesn’t look like Charles).

Surprisingly this film also has quite a lot of humor in it. Given the sad content I was happy to see little details in scenes that just make you smile or laugh, especially concerning the Royal Family. It shows them as being like everyone else (albeit rich) – ordinary humans. Which is also one of the great accomplishments of this film. It humanises the Royal Family and makes one understand their actions and thoughts.

Helen Mirren is standing out of the already superb cast portraying the Queen in her unemotional and proper manner. Only in one scene was she allowed to show emotion as the Queen. As her landrover breaks down – that she has been driving all by herself in the country – so does she. Like everyone else she has a breaking point and seeing that makes her character so much more accessible and human.

At the end of the film the Royals finally come down to London and the Queen meets her people – something that apparently hasnt happened since the end of WWII. After all the tension in the film here at the climax there is finally the sigh of relief. The Queen has changed in breaking with the proper ways and meeting her people. Blair has changed from the Royal-disliking man at the start of the movie to someone who defends the Queen against his wife’s contempt and accusations.

The people do matter, as they made even their Queen to break her ways. And now Tony Blair is in the same position with his people as the Queen was during and after Lady Di’s death. Unfortunately he doesnt have his younger self to tell him what is the right thing to do.

Overall this film blew me away. Not just the brilliant acting especially by Helen Mirren, but also the way archivefootage was integrated seemlessly into the film giving it a documentary feel. Drama and humor paired withe the amazing performances make this film one of the most impressive of the year.


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