The true story of how Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair handled the international fallout from the death of Princess Diana.
The Queen (2006)
Directed by Stephen Frears
Written by Peter Morgan
Starring Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Helen McCrory, Mark Bazeley, Roger Allam, Alex Jennings, Sylvia Syms
Oscar Wins - Best Actress (Helen Mirren)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design,
Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)
In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car accident in Paris. The crash occurred due to intrusive paparazzi that followed her every move, and her death affected people across the world. Her death was felt the hardest in England, though, and the British people looked to their leadership for faith, and I suspect, a common unifier. Newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair became the face of England's leadership, when the royal family retreated from public view and did nothing. This absence nearly turned the English people against Queen Elizabeth II and the other royals for good, and this film tells the story of how Elizabeth came to terms with the death of a woman she by all accounts despised.
Helen Mirren turns in a fantastic performance as Queen Elizabeth II, perfecting the "stiff upper lip" nuances of the royal family, but also keeping her down to earth so the audience can connect. When you strip away the titles and the extravagance, she is a grandmother mourning the death of her ex-daughter-in-law. But I think the scene stealer is Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, Britain's fledgling Prime Minister who was forced to become the face of the government's response to Diana's death. Sheen is always brilliant and he really sells Blair as a good politician who wants to do the right thing and help everybody. I know nothing of Blair's true policies or nature, so I can't speak for history, but in the film, he's an honorable man.
I appreciate how this film used real news footage of Diana to show how relentlessly she was stalked by the media. This film is more about her than it is about Elizabeth II or Blair, and for good reason. Diana's death was so avoidable and nobody was ever charged with negligence or manslaughter. She may not have been perfect, but she didn't deserve to be hounded like that. This film shows how Elizabeth II struggled with expressing her grief and felt alienated by her own people. Then again, this film also argues that the royal family live in their own bubble far away from the cries of the public. I guess it's up to you to decide if you believe in their sincerity.