The Queen, released in 2006, was nominated for six Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and Best Original Screenplay. I couldn’t find a film beginning with the letter Q that had won Best Original Screenplay, so resorted to a list of those that had been nominated. Helen Mirren won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II. (Best Original Screenplay that year went to Little Miss Sunshine.)
I remember well exactly where I was in my life when I heard that Princess Diana had died. I was shocked and angry at the paparazzi that surely contributed to the fatal accident. I had never been one to follow Diana’s activities with zealous interest, and yet I certainly had heard enough about her to mourn the loss of this special woman.
The Queen examines the week following Diana’s death from the perspective of the royal family, and that of recently elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen). The Queen’s initial reluctance to acknowledge Diana’s death publicly was a mistake she was severely criticized for. Some of what is depicted is surely the result of writers/filmmakers’ creative imagination, but it all serves to make a point about Diana’s tragic death. I appreciated the film as one who is not all that familiar with the British monarchy and England’s strange obeisance to a centuries old tradition of honoring this genealogical line. I came away from the film having gained some insight into the tradition that uses God’s will as a reason for this family’s privilege.
The scenery shown as the royal family goes stalking (hunting) in the week following Diana’s death is stark, yet beautiful. It is a part of the British Isles I had not seen before: 40,000 mountainous and mostly treeless acres belonging to the royal family.
The Queen and Prince Philip (James Cromwell) are at Balmoral Castle, along with Diana’s sons and Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) and eventually return to London where they see the mourners and tributes that have been left to honor Diana in front of the palace. Diana was the “People’s Princess,” well loved and respected, despite the divorce that seems to have scandalized the royal family more than the general public.
Liberal use of archival footage of Princess Diana is sprinkled throughout the film. I thought that this must have been a very stressful time for Mr. Blair, having just met the Queen and then dealing with the public’s reaction to what appeared to them to be a lack of sympathy for the death of Diana, their heroine.
The film is rated PG-13 for brief strong language. If you remember Diana fondly, I think you will appreciate this film. Helen Mirren is a great actress and her role as Queen Elizabeth is one that likely gave her many challenges, especially being that the Queen is still alive. Although it is the Queen’s story being told here, for me it was really all about remembering Diana. And for that reason, I recommend The Queen.