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Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Queen - Helen Mirren's command performance in line for Academy Award ? /* what a family ! */

Ten years after the tragedy and the recent release of the report, The Queen is worth the gander.

From imperious heights, the Queen and HRH look down upon the public outpouring of grief with a degree of detachment.

Surely there is a disconnect between the public perception and this person they lived with day in day out during the marriage which was abdicated by her.
This personage is never embodied within The Queen but her presence dominates the movie. Of course the reference is to Princess Di. After eighteen years of Tory rule, the Labor Party swept into power promising reform and modernization. Surely two factors that would not deign to enter into the world of the HRH.

It is the year of 1997 and the bloom has faded off the rose of the Royal Marriage between Charles and the Lady Di. The Queen - even after the crash - maintains the quiet dignity and inner fortitude that is expected by her and of her. So the public and the newspapers blare out headlines demanding some form of Royal statement or expression of grief - but none is forthcoming. There is a major disconnect between the public perception of the Princess and this person the royal highnesses lived with day in and day out. Dignity and expectation are the watchwords.
The timing of the crash would be the first major problem for the Labour Prime Minister to deal with and helped galvanize his popularity with the public as the HRH's themselves sequestered themselves at their retreat at Balmoral in Scotland to shelter the two sons and future heirs from the lamented fairy tale marriage between Prince Charles and the Princess of Wales. It was in the Blair speech crafted by his circle who in a stroke of public relations genius dubbed her the "People's Princess". The Queen highlights that crucial week between the crash and the funeral and details the contretemps between the two levels of power as they vie for control in their own spheres of influence.
As the HRH's watch on the telly the outpouring of grief and the continuous footage of the Princess in her world of fashion mavens and divas and charitable works, they seem to treat the events more in scorn as the newspapers and the people blare out in their headlines for a Royal reaction. Even something that seems so obvious as lowering the flag at half mast over Buckingham Palace is couched in royal tradition and protocol. The lowering of the flag is only meant to show that the HRH were not within Buckingham Palace, a practice that goes back 400 years.
As the Blair people attempt to find about details about the funeral, they are told that the funeral arrangments are up to the Spencer family. Blair becomes more and more exasperated with the Royal Family as they remain in seclusion out of London and out of touch with their subjects.
Trying to save them from themselves is a monumental task which is broached by the HRH press secretary and Blair. In the course of the week, he comes to understand their position and starts to admire the Queen's - a girl from a different age who was grown and thrust into the role at a young age and has lived through war and given advice to ten Prime Ministers - seen her father assassinated by a bomb - and whence of her is expected quiet dignity and service to her people first and self secondary.
Helen Mirren perfectly encapsulates HM Queen Elizabeth II in very human terms - behind the closed doors she is a real person, never frumpy but who carries her power well, who is comfortable wearing practical clothes and boots, driving her land rover over the roads at Balmoral, at ease with the outdoors and the nature of the hunt and stalk of game with guns, never showing her real grief but once, but at the proper occasion she is The Queen and deserving of all Academy Award and Golden Globe nods.
Surrounding Mirren and Her Majesty is James Cromwell as her husband, Prince Philip, the perfunctory Earl of Mountbatten, Alex Jennings who is a callow and simpering Prince Charles, Sylvia Sims [ who herself portrayed Margaret Thatcher for television], the Queen Mother who the Queen calls "Mummy", and Roger Allam [ great as Louis Prothero, the Voice of London in V for Vendetta ] who plays HM's press secretary Robin Janvrin in his dignified way tries to protect the Queen's outlook to the world.
On the other side there is Michael Sheen [ formerly engaged to Kate Beckinsale and played Lucian in Underworld ] who is Tony Blair to the last detail and equally merited of any leading actor considerations. By the end of the week and months afterwards there is a grudging admiration between HM and Blair and the hints of the modernization to come.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

cool.. keep up the great work!
You should be reviewed yourself by major magazines!