Film review: The Queen

The Queen
2006
Granada Productions, BIM Distribuzione, Pathé Renn Production, France 3 Cinéma, Canal+

STARRING Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms, Helen McCrory, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Mark Bazeley
WRITTEN BY Peter Morgan
PRODUCED BY Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward, Francois Ivernel
DIRECTED BY Stephen Frears

SHOT BY Affonso Beato
EDITED BY Lucia Zucchetti
MUSIC BY Alexandre Desplat
DISTRIBUTED BY Pathé Pictures, Miramax Films

Screened 2006-09-27


1997 saw the death of Britain’s Princess Diana (in case you missed that one). In America, distance to Britain’s plight left us to lay blame and to marvel at the contempt of the press, however in Britain another headline was swiftly taking precedence: the Royal Family’s seeming cruelty in not publicly responding to the Princess’s death. Public outpourings of affection for the Blair-deemed ‘People’s Princess’ illuminated a gap between the proletariat and the monarchy, one which was begging to be brought to light. The Queen gives a generous amount of sympathy to the actions taken by Queen Elizabeth II. According to Mirren, the Royal Family daily earns the sometimes idle, sometimes fervent criticism at any given lull in typical British conversation, which seems to echo the pedantic harangues that Joe America slovenly hurls at our President. Writer Morgan stands up and provides a shield to deflect the mud slung at the Royal Family, who, we are reminded, never did choose the life they lead; privileged people are people too – and somebody needs to run things over there. That’s one way of looking at it. As a film, The Queen provokes healthy debate, and provides a sympathetic look into very private life. As a piece of historical fiction, where and when it takes liberties (or license) to probe the morality of a slighted figurehead who may just as well have been acting out of malice…that’s up to you. Let’s just say that it’s not out of the realm of possibility to label The Queen as ‘revisionist,’ albeit for entertainment purposes. Nevertheless, we take pleasure in being reminded that those in power may be, like Aaron Sorkin’s team of White House do-gooders, making their paternal judgments after thorough and true soul-searching. Mirren’s Queen ultimately defends her decisions by stating that privacy should be respected, and that the Royal Family is simply accustomed to mourning “Quietly, with dignity,” much like Mirren’s Queen herself. With luck, this film hit the nail on the head.

written by David Ashley

Links:
Film’s site
Trailer
My interview participation with the cast/crew

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