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Diana: The Mourning After (1998)

6.9
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Title: Diana: The Mourning After (1998)

Diana: The Mourning After (1998) on IMDb 6.9/10

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Mark Thomas
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1998 (UK)  »

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"The word fan derives from fanatic" – Hitchslap for the tabloid-culture
29 January 2014 | by (Germany) – See all my reviews

There is a saying that people who have been around during the JFK-assassination distinctly remember what they did or where they were when President Kennedy was shot.

I distinctly recall that mourning of the 01. September 1997: Visiting my parents, I was awoken by my mother and told to turn the TV on. What on earth had happened, I wondered, that was so important that I would have to turn on the TV 7 o'clock in the morning? Did somebody accidentally launch a nuclear mission? Had a tsunami struck somewhere? Had aliens finally made the first contact? Well, if you were around that time, you'll surely remember the date. Diana Spencer, former Princess of Whales had died in a car accident in Paris the day before.

My first reaction was that I felt sorry for her sons (as I'd feel sorry for any son who looses his mother). The second reaction: Why on earth would I care? I don't read tabloids. I don't watch the Academy Awards ©. I don't care whether Justin Bieber (note, in case you're reading this in 2016: he was a popular YouTube-singer) has been caught DUI or is pregnant. And I'm not even British. Yet, I couldn't help watching the "Breaking News" on TV – nor did I have much of a choice, since nothing else was broad-casted that week. What else happened between 31st August and the 7th of September? I'm sure: a lot I'm sure; a military junta could have taken over the White House and we would never have heard about it. There was just too much live footage of a mob of grieving house-wives parading in front of Buckingham palace and laying down an ocean of flowers, slowly spiraling down into hysteria. Then everybody who had ever seen a camera gave their 2-cents on the matter on CNN and BBC (I believe, Tom Cruise, Madonna and Steven Spielberg, amongst others); Queen Elisabeth II. was virtually forced by public pressure to give a statement and then, of course, the funeral; re-broadcast over and over again (I can still sing along to "Goodbye, Norma Jean", pardon, "Candle in the Wind" to this day, despite neither being a fan of Elton John nor liking the song very much).

In "Diana: The Mourning After" Christopher Hitchens tries to investigate how the media created a "national experience" – a Woodstock-of-Mourning, if you want. And how opportunistic politicians like Tony Blair and hanger-ons used that event for their own points and purposes. Hitchens wonders what warranted this experience. The answer is typically Hitchens, precise, logic and down to the point: not much. The essential answer was much more trivial, if not vulgar: People mourning, not because they have lost somebody near and dear or because the world lost somebody who had a great impact on world-history (we all knew AIDS and land-mines existed long before Diana), but that the tabloids would be a little emptier after Diana's passing.

Years later the news broad-casted that Kim-Jong-Il, president of North-Korea, had passed away and showed footage of "mourners" in Pyongyang - pardon me, I cannot recall the exact date, but I distinctly remember what I thought during that time: "It is as if Diana Spencer had died all over again".

One of the interviewees pointed out, that the world would grief very much about a person who has "actually made a huge difference in the world" and points out Nelson Mandela. 16 years have gone by since then and Nelson Mandela has passed away a few months ago. Compare the amount of media-coverage and decide for yourself.

8/10 (for the documentary, that is)


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