Saturday, November 11, 2006

Movies: The Queen (2006)

The Queen (2006) tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II, her family and her prime minister during the extraordinary week in 1997 when Diana died.

The Queen's instinct is to not comment on Diana's death, because it is a personal family matter for her grandchildren and the Spencer family. Instead, the royals remain at their Scottish estate away from their televisions and, therefore, underestimate the sadness of the British people, which is fed by non-stop media coverage of Diana's death.

The prime minister, only a few months into his job, understands the mood of the people and speaks eloquently about Diana. As Tony Blair grows more popular, the public opinion reveal that 25 percent favour an end to the monarchy.

The Queen's confidence in her instincts and understanding of her people is shaken. She begins to watch some of the coverage on Diana's life and begins to buy into the Diana myth, in spite of her family's private behind-the-scenes dealings with Diana in the past. The Queen eventually follows her prime minister's advice -- a reversal of the traditional role of the queen who advises the prime minister -- returns to London, and speaks to her people. She regains her popularity and saves the monarchy.

In the final scene some months after the week Diana died, she reveal to the prime minister in their monthly private meeting that the day will come when the people will turn on him, as they turned on her. He won't see it coming and it will happen suddenly and without warning.

The messages of this movie aren't subtle: elected officials understand the people more than old royals; officials from both sides distrust one another; traditions should change with the times.

The Queen has such a recognizable face being on the money and all. Yet I bought Helen Mirren's performance. The pacing of the film was good. Never got bored. Good flick.

New Quebec rating: 3.5/5