Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Queen

One of the most remarkable aspects of the excellent Stephen Frears film The Queen is its quite fearless look at the dreadful Diana cult among the British public (represented by Frears as a conglomerate of celebrity-slavering boobs) and how lightly Elizabeth II had to tread around the dead body of that privileged cow who became such a media darling at the expense of everything the Royals stood for. Few people seem to remember what a royal pain Diana became in her last years and how she manipulated the media to humiliate her husband and to promote an image of herself as the victim of some kind of smear campaign orchestrated by the Queen.

As "Lady Di," Diana was flaunting herself and evidently enjoying the life she'd been denied by being recruited into supplying the monarchy with heirs (which is the only duty that she performed well) whilst simultaneously thumbing her nose at them in total disregard for the position in which she was putting her own sons.

Diana must have been a tasty bit of tail for crusty old Charles, but after everything she put him through, like dragging him to rock concerts, being betrayed by her in her outrageous tabloid interviews, and dying practically in the lap of a millionaire playboy, he must still be wondering if she was worth it, and if she just might have got exactly what she deserved.
A coincidence that was either overlooked or misinterpreted by the media was the death, just six days later, of Mother Teresa, who was nearly as big a fraud as Diana. Of course, the press played up their similarities in saintliness, which merely emphasized how little they understood either of them. If there was any real resemblance between them it was the extent to which they were both driven by vanity.

Stephen Frears has become the best British film director since Peter Yates (Bullitt, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, The Dresser). But he did it with one-off films like My Beautiful Laundrette, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, and Dirty Pretty Things. (Unlike Yates, his American films are largely forgettable.) He also directed two films, Gumshoe and The Hit which, while being ultimately silly, remain guilty pleasures for me. With The Queen, he handles his big budget (for a British film) well, and manages to do his subject justice. While I felt no more affection for the woman than I did before I saw The Queen, it made me feel sorry for her having to endure Diana.

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