Tradition Prepared Her. Change Will Define Her.
Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms, Alex Jennings
The Queen is an intimate look at how Tony Blair (Sheen), the newly elected Prime Minister, “saved” the royal family after the death of Princess Diana. Maintaining the immemorial English stiff upper lip, HM Elizabeth II (Mirren) and her family recoiled from public view during the public outpouring of grief. Blair, realising that the Queen’s socially blinkered approach was alienating her subjects, suggested a compromise between honouring tradition and giving into public demands.
Mirren gives a commanding performance worthy of an Oscar. The audience witnesses an intensely believable Elizabeth with both a sense of humour and a deep sense of duty. Her rapport with Sheen is a highlight. The differences are apparent upon their initial meeting but, movingly, it is Blair that becomes the staunchest defender of the Queen’s integrity and commitment to the nation.
The audience is privy to a backstage drama of complex relationships. The Queen, a living embodiment of English propriety, is delicately balanced against Blair’s modern government. Frears is innovative in his use of eerie documentary footage, allowing Princess Diana to portray herself through a series of interviews. What results is the perfect combination of historical conjecture and political commentary.
The film is restrained and, subtle as its mix of decorous gossip, wit and compassion humanises the royal facade of decorum and the prickly world of politics and popular culture. This exceptional comedy of manners is an intimate piece of living history.
Screenings of this film:
|2006/2007 Spring Term – (35mm)|