Monday, January 01, 2007



For New Year's Day Dean and I went to see Stephen Frears' The Queen. What a wonderful little movie. Helen Mirren virtually channels Elizabeth in the days following the death of Princess Diana. She deserves a medal for her spot-on, heart-wrenching, ironic, dead-pan, and good-humored performance. The news footage and reenactments of the events leading to Diana's death, and it's aftermath, are incredibly moving: this viewer was almost in tears. Prince Charles is a total dork, mincing about and kow-towing to the Queen by taking his sons out hunting to Balmore Castle in Scotland in the days following their mother's sudden death. James Cromwell of Six Feet Under fame, perfectly cast as the Queen's consort Prince Philip, prances about in a kilt with his skinny legs, goes off to sleep in his own room, swears and hunts and bad-mouths Di. And what about Tony Blair: I did not remember he was a newly elected still-wet-behind-the-ears Prime Minister in his first months in office when Diana was killed. His handling of the situation ("She was the People's Princess"), and his often-conflicted advice to the bumbling cold-hearted Royal Family, probably helped save the monarchy from abolishment. In the end, this is Mirren's movie. She is a revelation. Amazing. Only she could make me again love the Queen. I'd kiss her ring in a minute. Go see it. You know you love these silly royals.

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New Year's Eve we went to the neighborhood burn at Bradner Park: an old oil barrel bonfire, where we all gathered to toss in remnants from the year: a photo of Rumsfield shaking hands with Saddam, a magazine cover of our idiot president George Bush, someone's old medical records, a wooden frog from Thailand, a beat-up pinata, etc. Clare was shooting at the pyre with his gasoline squirt gun and causing huge flames to roar. Such a show!

Reading in the new issue VQR: a wonderful set of essays on the Lyric Poem, as well as some wonderful poems by friends Allen Braden ("Details of the Four Chambers of the Horse's Heart") and C Dale ("Sepsis").

6 comments:

redtown said...

The film is brilliant in every way, save one.  In reality, the Queen's reaction to Diana's death surely covered a range of ambivalent feelings, and was not just a cold insistence on protocol, as suggested by the film.

Prince Charles tells his mother, "The Diana we knew was very different than the Diana idolized by the public", but this truth is never developed in the film.  I'll mention it here.

While the "people's princess" remains the icon of superficial popular culture, the Royals knew a very different, darker character behind the facades of glamour and pseudo-compassion.

Both Diana and her brother, Charles Spencer, suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder caused by their mother's abandoning them as young children.  A google search reveals that Diana is considered a case study in BPD by mental health professionals.

For Charles Spencer, BPD meant insatiable sexual promiscuity (his wife was divorcing him at the time of Diana's death). For Diana, BPD meant intense insecurity and insatiable need for attention and affection which even the best husband could never fulfill. 

Clinically, it's clear that the Royal family did not cause her "problems". Rather, Diana brought her multiple issues into the marriage, and the Royal family was hapless to deal with them.

Her illness, untreated, sowed the seeds of her fast and unstable lifestyle, and sadly, her tragic fate.

Peter said...

Fascinating take on it Redtown. Do you work for the Royal family?

redtown said...

I wished I worked for the Royal family. And although my first name is Elizabeth, I'm NOT Elizabeth Windsor! I only wish that more people who idolize the mentally troubled Diana would wake up to the facts and stop blamming the Queen and Prince Charles for all her problems.

Collin said...

I think The Queen humanized Elizabeth, who I've always viewed as an emotionless android. Even Prince Charles said she was distant and cold.

As for Diana's mental stability, this film wasn't about that. Frankly, I'm sick of people worrying so much about her personal life and wish there could be more focus on the positive things she did for charity and especially AIDS.

That day in the 1980s when she went the hospital in London and spoke with those dying and was unafraid to touch them was a turning point. Here in America and England, conservative Christian right wing nutjobs were so busy scaring everyone about HIV/AIDS, that compassion was left by the wayside. If Diana did nothing else, she offered a bit of humanity and dignity. Those nights she secretly took her sons to hospitals and clinics was not for publicity, but I believe out of compassion and was a mother opening her childrens' minds.

Peter said...

Collin: I agree. Diana was an exemplary public figure, and did amazing things for the needy and the oppressed. It is no fluke that she is so well-loved, by millions, even to this day.

Redtown: I think the Borderline Personality Disorder rap is misplaced. I have had many a patient with this disorder, and I just don't see it in Diana. Brittany Spears, yes; but Diana, no.

Diane K. Martin said...

I do intend to see this. Don't know that I love those silly royals, but do know that I love Helen Mirren. She's hand's down my favorite actress. (My favorite actor is heartthrob Daniel Day-Lewis.)