The passing of Princess Diana during Labor Day Weekend in 1997 was
one of the events that made the earth stand till before 9/11. The Princess
Diana and Royal Family saga will be dramatized much
like the British histories of the Lancaster's, Tudors, the three King
Richards and Henry the VIII's divorce cycles. While
not entirely historically accurate, Director
Stephen Frears does present a respectful expose about
the long week for Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren).
Though the title of this movie is "The Queen," this motion picture should have been
titles the "The Royal Family Meets the New Prime Minister." The screenplay divides time equally
between Queen Elizabeth and young Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen).
Tony Blair is elected Prime Minister on the platform of modernization. Queen Elizabeth and her royal
family would have preferred Blair's opponent, who harbored more traditional political ambitions Tony
Blair is Queen Elizabeth's 10th Prime Minister, the first being Sir Winston Churchill. The first meeting
is an icy experience.
As the Royal Family prepare for bed on August 31,
Queen Elizabeth learns that her ex daughter -in-law,
Princess Diana, has died in a car accident. While the
royal family is initially shocked by this tragedy, the
events do not alter the family's vacation plans.
Still feeling personal animosity towards her ex
daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth and her husband
(James Cromwell) plan to keep a stiff upper lip.
As the public outpouring of grief takes on worldly
proportions, the Royal Family seem more preoccupied
with stalking a wild stag on their royal property.
Prime Minister Tony Blair attempts to quell the
negative firestorm directed towards the Royal Family.
Blair must also deal with members of his own
political circle, including his wife; who refers to
the royal Family as
“...freeloading emotional retarded gnatters.”
Director Frears and screen writer Peter Morgan (who
also wrote "The Last King of Scotland") do perform a
commendable service for ticket buyers by opening up
the story. What could have been a dull talking heads drama,
Frears opens the film up with vista landscapes of the Royal Countryside.
The cross editing between the Prime Minister's World and the Royal countryside
presents a collision between two worlds.
Despite presenting modern tragedy, there is much humor
in "The Queen." Most of the humor comes at how out of
touch the Royal Family is from reality. It would be a
wonderful sitcom featuring this cast and crew on a
weekly sitcom featuring the deluded life of the
Royals. As Prince Philip James Cromwell delivers some
of the most insensitive lines that can be interpreted as
cruel, but become funny because it reveals the callow
nature of the man. Michael Sheen scores with a positive portrayal of Tony
Blair. The character comes across as a nice guy who
appeals to everybody's nobler motives.
Helen Mirren deserves her Oscar for creating an
approachable Queen Elizabeth. While in public and in
a crowd of more than two people, Elizabeth is not
allowed to present a chink in her armor. It is only
in her private moments when the Queen gets stranded by
a river, that Mirren projects grief and pain of her
situation. Despite her poor public image, one comes
to sympathize with a individual in a leadership role
“I prefer to keep my feelings to myself. Duty first, self second.”
While this film can still be seen on the big screen,
**The Queen** will be a hit as a DVD when released on