THE QUEEN takes audiences behind the scenes of one of the most shocking public events of recent times - providing an illuminating, acidly funny, yet deeply affecting, dramatic glimpse into what happens in the corridors of power when tragedy strikes. The setting for this fictional account of real events is no less than the private chambers of the Royal Family and the British government in the wake of the sudden death of Princess Diana in August of 1997. In the immediate aftermath of the Princess's passing, the tightly contained, tradition-bound world of the Queen of England (DAME HELEN MIRREN) clashes with the slick modernity of the country's brand new, image-conscious Prime Minister, Tony Blair (MICHAEL SHEEN). The result is an intimate, yet thematically epic, battle between private and public, responsibility and emotion, custom and action - as a grieving nation waits to see what its leaders will do.
With a screenplay drawn from extensive interviews, devoted research, discreet sources and informed imagination, as well as tour de force portrayals of living figures of power, THE QUEEN provides a stunningly fresh portrait of one of the modern world's last great monarchs as she has never been seen before - as a vulnerable human being in her darkest hour, amidst the unprecedented media madness, stark emotions and PR maneuvering set in motion by Diana's death.
In August of 1997, Princess Diana, arguably one of the most famous and idolized women in all the world, died in a disastrous car crash on the streets of Paris. The global population was sent reeling into shock, the media went into a frenzy - and, in England, where total reserve once held sway, a remarkable sea change appeared to take place in the very fabric of society as the public came forth in unexpected displays of profound grief and emotion.
The resounding impact of the tragedy was felt in an entirely different way in the corridors of power. Behind closed doors, an intensely private battle of wills erupted between the newly elected British government and the Royal Family over how to handle the incident. Diana was already a highly contentious figure. Following her separation from Prince Charles, the Princess had refused to sit quietly in the background and disappear from public life, causing anguish for the Royals. Now, in the wake of her passing, the Queen and her family did what they were used to doing in the midst of family tragedy - they hunkered down in their own concealed world of ritual and protocol, hiding away at their Scottish retreat in Balmoral, only to be persuaded unwillingly into the public eye by the brash and powerful new Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
This remarkable clash between a regal Monarch trying to fulfill her ancient mandate and a savvy master of contemporary political public relations forms the heart of THE QUEEN.
As a story, the events surrounding the death of Princess Diana could offer endless easy angles for a filmmaker: a terrifying car chase by ruthless paparazzi; a celebrity devastatingly killed in her prime; a controversial love affair cut short before it could blossom; and a press corps accused of causing the death of the woman with whom they were so obsessed.
Yet THE QUEEN takes an entirely fresh approach - peering instead at the resonating effects of Diana's death as it shook the very foundations of Britain's relationship with its own monarchy.
Rotten Tomatoes Score:
Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Sylvia Syms, Alex Jennings, Helen McCrory
UK, France, Italy
English, German, French
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