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With all respect for European people,I have to say I have never been interested in the attractiveness of the royalty, and that I do not have the minimum interest in the magazines of gadgets that apparently subsist thanks to the slips (literal and appeared) of real families, aristocracy and other figures.So,my expectations for The Queen were low in spite of the acclamation of the main actress.But I took a nice surprise and The Queen resulted to be an interesting,fascinating and great movie.Helen Mirren brings a wonderful performance and the awards she received are totally deserved.But all the cast brings great performances,from Michael Sheen to James Cromwell without forgetting Sylvia Syms and Roger Allam.The great Stephen Frears backed to do an excellent work as a director.He's a great director but he has considered himself as a mediocre screenwriter,so he always calls talented screenwriters and he found that on Peter Morgan who,with a lot of investigation and interviews,created a realistic and credible story in which private conversations are shaken with public commentaries from the royal family,their auxiliaries and even detractors.And,in all that conversations,gossips and suppositions,we can perfectly see the main characters' personalities and their complicated relationships.And we see the death of the royalty in a symbolic way using a deer.The Queen is a great film,with hypnotic intensity and a deep story.I totally recommend this fascinating film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Making a film about Princess Diana's death less then ten years after
the event seemed to me a little bit crass, especially it features
people who are not only still alive but very familiar to us: in
particular the Queen herself, her family, not to mention Tony Blair.
But by now the film has been covered in so much glory and plaudits, I
thought I may as well see what all the fuss was about.
I thought it worked well. Helen Mirren acquits herself very well as the Queen, giving a very human dimension to the monarch. The other main characters are brilliantly realised: Sylvia Syms' daft but still regal Queen Mother, James Cromwell as a pompous and old-fashioned Prince Phillip and Alex Jennings playing Prince Charles as a weaselly fop. Writer Peter Morgan has respectfully kept the two princes out of it, and asides from a brief bedroom scene where Charles breaks the sad news, they are not seen. The spectre of Diana lingers heavily over the movie, and as an audience we understand the Royal's conflicted attitude towards the Princess, fighting through their personal dislike of the woman to try and understand the public's admiration for her.
I enjoyed Mark Bazeley's representation of Alastair Campbell. Not only does he look almost exactly like the real man, but presents two sides to the character, both as a cynic scornful of the royals and a sleazy opportunist making the most of a terrible situation.
The real standout though is Micheal Sheen as Tony Blair. At first glance, the portrayal is only two steps away from yet another comic send-up, but Sheen takes the character on a journey here. He shows how the crisis allows Blair to become infatuated with the monarchy, sowing the seeds of self-delusion that will eventually prove the ruin of his premiership. Though this isn't the first time Sheen has played the role, I would like to see him do so again and develop his portrayal further.
Peter Morgan's script gets the balance right between comedy and drama, and turns out what proves to be an incisive historical satire on British politics and the monarchy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As an avowed republican I was unsure, even knowing the many accolades
the film has garnered, that I would have much interest in it. However
my curiosity about Liz was too much for me and I looked forward to
seeing the normal side of a public figure who I had grown up with. I
didn't know much about her except the TV spots showing her with strange
looking little purses hung on her arm and her undoubted love for
Corgis. That the entire film was built around the week that Diana was
killed in Paris took me a little by surprise but in terms of film
building it made perfect sense.
In my opinion, everything that has been said about Helen Mirren's performance is absolutely true. She embodied Elizabeth perfectly and she richly deserves even if she doesn't receive an Accademy for her performance. Having said that, I can not recall a single performance that was in any way mediocre. I was struck with how extraordinarily accurate the performances were. The casting was remarkable; every person from he Duke to Blair's offsiders were perfect.
Regardless of your feelings about the Monarchy, remember Blaire's outburst at his staff towards the movie's end, this film should be seen: see it for its contemporary history, for the fabulous acting work, its brilliant casting as well as settings not normally seen.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A scrupulous docu-drama about how the death of Princess Diana elevated
a newly elected prime minister and nearly devastated the British
monarchy, The Queen does a wonderful job at fairly depicting the
strengths and weaknesses of aristocratic privilege and democratic
modernity. With a script that avoids all excess and sparkling
performances by Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen, it's that rarest of all
works of fiction - one that enlightens and well as entertains.
Anyone old enough to remember the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Di also remembers the way her life ended in Paris, practically chased to death by the paparazzi. In the week after that tragedy, Great Britain was consumed in an orgy of public grief and a growing anger at a royal family that pointedly refused to join in the ostentatious mourning. This movie seeks to give a fair hearing to the much maligned royals, acknowledging the basic ridiculousness of a 20th century society willfully engaging in the mass delusion of treating an unelected, unappointed and factually powerless figurehead as if she were still important, while being fair to that figurehead and her family for the odd behavior their odder situation has cultivated in them.
Deftly fusing together real news footage with re-enactments and dramatic inventions, The Queen is a brilliant blend of family turmoil, political maneuvering and social observation. It takes us inside the royal family and tries to demonstrate the peril and the promise of hereditary power. The Queen (Helen Mirren) is a shining example that when privilege is married to at least a sense of responsibility, it can produce someone quite impressive and worthy. When privilege is divorced from responsibility, we see the results in the seething arrogance of the Queen's husband, Philip (James Cromwell), and the sniveling weakness of her son, Prince Charles (Alex Jennings). Charles is actually the most fascinating character in the story, as it's subtly suggested that keeping him in subservient irrelevance for his entire adult life trapped him in a state of emotional adolescence.
Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) is a man given power to reform British life and finds his first challenge is the daunting task of preserving the very heart of British tradition. In life, Princess Diana became a complicated woman with virtues and vices. In death, she became a secular saint which the public demanded the royal family bow down before. The fact that Diana had been a pain in the royal neck for many years didn't matter. The fact that such insistent wallowing in grief was overwrought and unseemly didn't matter. The people demanded and their supposed sovereign had to obey, something the movie makes clear the Queen should have understood herself.
This is just a tremendous film with crackerjack writing and masterful direction that crystallizes a moment of history about as well as anything else in cinema. You should definitely watch this.
It has been for years that I haven't seen such a beautiful film. And I very rarely give maximum mark for a film. This one deserved it. It has psychology,drama,dialog,you name it. I have always said that British cinema is second to none in the world and this film proved it once again.It is not so much a film, but an artistic piece which is so rare today when cinema has been degraded to mere entertainment.The subjects are too many to write about them but all are sensitively presented and analyzed. Helen Mirren was so good that sometimes I had the feeling that this was a documentary and that Her Majesty herself was filmed.But above all I think this is a serious and responsible soul-searching of the British society in the 90s. Britain going on the coach to be released of its demons. And not only Britain of course but all modern society.The conflict between the generations but also the attempts to resolve this conflict:this is the backbone of the film I think. I live in a small town in Bulgaria and it was extremely difficult to find this film.But it was worth-- every minute of it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film captured not just the essence of the British Monarchy, but the relationship the British people have with it, and even the national character, not to mention putting everything the public has gleaned (or could have gleaned, had they/we cared to look beyond the immediate) of the British Royal Family, itself.
If you ask the casual observer about the Windsors, s/he may very well parrot Cherie Blair's virulent anti-monarchy remarks about how soulless/shallow/parasitical they are. And the film absolutely shows how out of touch HM is (or, perhaps, seemed) with the thoughts/views/feelings of the modern-day British subject.
However, we must look closer - and the film not just allows us to do so, it does so for us: it is Tony Blair who becomes the vehicle for revealing the truth. He starts off the film feeling as others do, but after seeing HM close up, hearing what she has to say on the subject of propriety & guidance - the 2 things which are demanded most of her - he comes to see not just HM's point of view, but the worth of the Monarchy itself. He starts off by all-but-agreeing with his wife on the subject of the Royal Family - and ends the film by lambasting those who dare to criticize the Queen.
Another way in which HM's vision of Britain is portrayed is through the stag. Prince Philip et al are seen treating the stag as centuries of Britons have treated them: stalking carefully over days, taking care to keep the "contest" as level as possible (even if you hate hunting as much as I do, you must understand that this is the intent). And what happens to the stag? A "commercial guest" of a once-proud neighboring manor is all-but handed the stag through the careful staging of beaters, still manages to botch the job, and the beaters must finish off the poor animal. I used to think that the stag was Diana, killed through her courting the vulturazzis, who could then not be "turned off", but I have come to see that the stag as a metaphor of the British character, damaged through abandoning traditional British ways. Anyone doubting my interpretation has only to look at the undisputed historical facts of the film: even while mourning the woman who seemingly rejected everything for which the Monarchy stands (and mourning her because of that stance), what did the people want? Or, more tellingly, who? They wanted their Queen. Exactly in the manner of grieving children wanting Mommy to come tell them everything will be all right (& this is not meant as an insult to those who felt that way: it is a human condition).
(NOTE: it has come to my attention that the director, himself, has spoken out on the reaction to the film, & particularly this part of it. He has said that the stag was meant to signify the Monarchy, itself, and that the use of an old stag, with an astonishing number of points was deliberate, because, as was made clear in the dialogue, it would normally have been shot long before. But he has also said that this, as well as his entire portrayal of HM & the Monarchy, was NOT meant to be positive, & that he is amazed by how many people felt "sympathetic" to the Queen after viewing the movie. So even if I did not grasp what he wanted to say, neither did the bulk of his viewers: What this says to me is that there are some fundamental truths that no movie maker can ever destroy if he is honest in his subjects.)
Helen Mirren, of course, was spectacular. James Cromwell was luckily very good - he looks as much like Prince Philip as any actor could get, so it's a good thing he could pull it off. Michael Sheen was also aided by physical resemblance. One hopes for Cherie Blair's sake that Helen McCrory's interpretation of her was terrible! Prince Charles was captured very well by Alex Jennings: the indecisiveness brought on by years of the Establishment contradicting his thoughts/views/ideas, the frustration at not just that but in dealing with Diana, or getting anyone to believe his side of the story (that one anguished outburst of "Now they see what it was like!" & that Diana's public and private personnae were maddeningly disparate cut right to the heart of it). Sylvia Sims also evoked the Queen Mother very thoroughly - and I am extremely grateful for and admiring of the director's decision never to show the younger princes in any real detail. It's bad enough we eavesdrop on the elders - they should be allowed as much privacy as possible. After all, a good deal of film was about their privacy - and what lack of privacy can do to a person.
I watch this film over and over - it's riveting.
The closing shots of The Queen will have you smiling, acknowledging the
fact that what comes next in chronological history is what has shaped
my country, England, in the last decade as Tony Blair (Sheen) and Queen
Elizabeth the Second (Mirren) walk off together through her gardens.
It'll have you smiling in recognition that what followed is part of
history, part of a history you will have lived through and remembered;
after all, what is ten years amongst the vast centuries of history? I
think I had such a connection, such a link, to The Queen because
Diana's death occurred at a time where I was not too young to remember
it happen, nor was I too young to acknowledge how important an event it
was. I will remember exactly where I was when I saw it on the morning
news after another family member decided to turn on the television for
the mere sake of it. I may have been too young to know exactly who
Diana was but the general consensus that something truly terrible had
happened to someone who truly didn't deserve it was inescapable; the
atmosphere and feel of that time is captured perfectly in this film by
director Frears be it down to use of news coverage resurrecting
nostalgic emotions deep within me or merely down to the mise-en-scene
used in the form of props: then England manager Glenn Hoddle on the
back of a newspaper and a Sony Playstation complete with games and
controller in view at various points.
I recently saw a film entitled JFK which I learnt after seeing was also Oscar nominated for best picture in its respective year. Like JFK, all the British will remember where they were and what they were doing when they learnt of Diana's death it was an event that hit the American's like Kennedy's death, I'm sure. I think I enjoyed JFK at the level I did because of this film, since it brings out feelings of nostalgia and sadness at once; sort of like the feeling you might get when you look at a photograph of a deceased loved one. The Queen as a film manages to remain extremely authentic, mainly down to its mise-en-scene mentioned earlier, without feeling too much like a send up or a spoof; people who have ever seen an episode of Spitting Image or one of Rory Bremner's Tony Blair impersonations will know what I mean. What can be funny in The Queen is strictly kept to a surreal and constructive level; there is the acknowledgment of memory that makes you smirk every now and again but there is also something rather amusing about watching apparent members of the royal family squabble over things like who wants to watch the television.
I think there are several little coded undercurrent swimming around beneath The Queen's surface. First of all, we must remember what the film is entitled: it's called 'The Queen' despite its subject matter and extremely heavy emphasis on Lady Diana's death. To call Diana's death a 'MacGuffin' would perhaps be a too colloquial expression but the film brilliantly uses it as its backdrop to its events; rather than focus on setting or time, the film lets the found footage of the news and such to place you there rather than feed you establishing shots and crane shots scanning the vast locales of the film. Yes, notice how it is entitled The Queen and notice how it never allows Diana to take over as the focus for the film; it may be about her and her immediate aftermath but it is The Queen's and the royal family's reaction that will dictate where the film will go Frears never allows the two to cross contaminate.
Then there is Tony Blair to consider. Whilst brilliantly acted, there is more to his performance and character than it seems. Blair announces that he is the new deal; he is the ultimate piece of modernity in terms of politics and world leaders: young, laid back and with children old enough to go to school. "Just call me Tony" is the way the expression goes, I believe. This is where the counterbalance occurs because for the duration of the film, Blair and the Queen are at loggerheads with one another with Blair frequently pointing out what it is he think the Royals should do but the Queen had none of it. Here is the old vs. the new; the modern vs. the traditional clashing at full stretch. This is further emphasised by the spaces they inherit: the royals are in fancy places with vast open rooms whereas Tony is in an office, sleeves rolled up and telling the Queen that he believes it to be "his duty" to suggest such actions. The Queen Mother may think him a silly man but he is daring to challenge the binary opposite of himself in terms of power.
The Queen is a clever film that will evoke emotion to some degree but will not have you crying your eyes out; it's clever like that. It will allow you nostalgia on a certain level but it will never bombard you, favouring etching out memory instead out and out tears before bedtime. What with an extremely authentic look, brilliant acting and a piece of iconography represented through a great stag as the Queen realises the value of life and what she must do when she sees it for a final time, the film is a big winner in almost every department.
From Academy Award nominated director Stephen Frears comes The Queen,
the story of the untimely death of Princess Diana and the toll it
placed on Queen Elizabeth of England and her royal subjects. Helen
Mirren plays the beautiful monarch in the most spot on biopic
performance of the 2006.
Writer Peter Morgan, responsible for penciling The Last King of Scotland, makes this rather short film everything to gander and awe at. The dialogue is completely engaging never leaving the viewer outside the room rather, inviting us in to this tragic time of loss and accountability.
Mirren as stated before, brings her best performance of her career. Within the subtlety of Queen Elizabeth lies the torment and frustration of a powerful woman thrust into a difficult situation. Besides bringing forth a strange and eerie resemblance of the woman, Mirren doesn't just imitate like other actors tend to do, she inhabits the woman, both inside and out. The subtlety is quite beautiful and quite intimidating and the viewer feels awkward while viewing Ms. Mirren on screen. Not since her overrated performance in Robert Altman's Gosford Park, has Helen Mirren been so good.
Michael Sheen, who has been nearly invisible in Hollywood plays the Prime Minister Tony Blair. Sheen, also with his subtlety shows power and compassion in the most powerful of scenes. There is no screaming or yelling, just plain nuisance and anxiety. As he tries to save the Queen from herself, he embodies a man that is completely familiar to the audience and shines in his most tender moments. What Sheen brings is much charisma and a strong likability factor that lacks often in films, especially when it's a biopicture.
You can easily tell that director Stephen Frears has a high admiration for the Queen of England. To make a film where nothing really happens, seem like everything just happened is a triumph. And that's what The Queen is, a triumph, that is exquisitely acted and powerfully written. Along with Alexandre Desplat's score that adds tension to each scene, this film is easily one of the best films of 2006.
Stephen Frears demonstrates, as he did most especially in Dangerous Liasons, his complete artistic and technical mastery of the medium. The performances are excellent and Helen Mirren is quite simply as good as it gets. This is a unique film, deeply personal in a way to most Brits, and almost enters that realm beyond criticism in which The Passion of the Christ existed for those who appreciated it. Revisiting the Diana death week, and revealing our monarch, in most hands would have been vulgar sentimental porn at best. How lucky we are - truly fortunate as cinema goers - to have someone of such profound, questioning and considerate genius as Frears at the helm. I for one am touched and surprised that such consummate, classical artistry is still possible. Mr Frears, though it may not be your desire, I doff my cap to you.
This is a very disappointing movie. It plays like a TV movie of the
week. Admittedly Helen Mirren is made to look and sound a lot like the
Queen, but that's about it. The rest is fluff, eye candy, and instantly
I never understood this fascination with Diana, without which this film would never have been made. And because the facts and personae are all so known, there is not much leeway for the script or the characters. Charlie, Philip, Blair, they all are cheap caricatures of the original, despite their protestations to the contrary.
My only consolation is that I did not pay full fare at the theatre.
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