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Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Actress, Dame Helen Mirren gives a spellbinding performance in THE QUEEN, the provocative story behind one of the most public tragedies of our time the sudden death of Princess Diana. In the wake of Diana's death, the very private and tradition-bound Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren) finds herself in conflict with the new Prime Minister, the slickly modern and image-conscious Tony Blair. THE QUEEN, also starring Academy Award® Nominee James Cromwell (Best Supporting Actor, BABE, 1995), takes you inside the private chambers of the Royal Family and the British government for a captivating look at a vulnerable human being in her darkest hour, as a nation grieving for its People's Princess waits to see what its leaders will do. Suspenseful, heartfelt and riveting, it's a fascinating story you wont soon forget.
Helen Mirren reigns supreme in The Queen, a witty and ingenious look at a moment that rocked the house of Windsor: the week that followed the sudden death of Princess Diana in 1997. Diana's death came at just the same time that Prime Minister Tony Blair (played by the bright Michael Sheen) was settling into his new government--and trying to figure out the delicate relationship between 10 Downing Street and Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren). A large portion of the British population was trying to figure out the Windsors that week, as Elizabeth remained stiff-upper-lip and largely mum about the death of the beloved princess. In Peter Morgan's skillful script, we watch as Blair grows increasingly impatient with the Royals, who are sequestered in their Scottish estate while the public demands some show of grief. Prince Philip (James Cromwell, in good form) clumsily decides to take Diana's sons hunting, while a sympathetically-treated Prince Charles (Alex Jennings) displays some frustration with his mother's eerie calm.
None of this conveys how funny the film is, or how deftly it flows from one scene to the next. Director Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things) deserves great credit for that, and for the performances, and for the movie's marvelous sense of well-roundedness; you could see this movie and groan at the cluelessness of the Royals and their outmoded existence, or you might just sympathize with showing reserve in a world that values gross public displays of emotion. But either way, you'll marvel at Mirren, who makes the Queen far more alert and human than one might ever have imagined. --Robert Horton
Beyond The Queen
The British are Coming! Kings & Queens on DVD
Helen Mirren Essential DVDs
The Queen: Music From the Motion Picture by Alexandre Desplat
- The making of The Queen
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Top Customer Reviews
After his statement, Blair goes to the royals and asks if they would like to say anything publicly about Diana's death. Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren, in a role that is sure to win her a Best Actress award come Oscar time) refuses, stating "no member of the royale family will comment on the Princesses death." The royals no longer consider Diana part of the royal family, remembering her as a woman who partied too much, had public affairs, and was an overall headache. Besides, the death of a family member is a "personal family affair, and the public will understand that." Too bad for the Queen, but the public doesn't respond well to the silence at all. They eagerly await a public acknowledgment from their queen, and are furious at the silence of the royals. When the royals refuse to hang their flag down to acknowledge the loss of a loved one, tempers flair even more.
The media prints news article after news article, condemning the royals for their silence, while the Prince just mumbles about how rude the people are being. "They talk as if they were the one's who knew her," he says angrily. "To them she was a saint, to us she was a nuisance." Blair has a public relations nightmare as he tries to calm Britains anger, but finds himself in popular light where everyone is in favor of destroying the monarchy in favor of a new government (preferably with Blair in it). The royals themselves don't come off as cruel, selfish people, but rather as people who are controlled by tradition and time. The world has evolved greatly since Queen Elizabeth II began her ruling, where she once was the Queen, but now is the Queen in name only. She does not interact with people outside of the castle and royal grounds, and simply cannot relate to the peoples outrage.
As the week goes on, we feel sad for her when she loses sleep at night, feeling hurt and rejected by her people. She can't even begin to figure out why they hate her so much. Is it too much to ask for some privacy when mourning the loss of a family member? Was Diana still considered a family member when the royal family rejected her a few years ago? If she is not, then why is it her responsibility to make a statement? When she discovers that Diana's funeral will be attended by celebrities, she wonders whether or not people will be watching Diana's funeral as if it were the circus. Compared to Prince Philips, who openly shows a lot of resentment towards Diana, Queen Elizabeth II truly comes off as someone who cares about the situation, but just doesn't know what to do about it. Even Prince Charles urges her to make a statement, though he certainly doesn't completely understand what his mother is going thru.
When Queen Elizabeth II finally does exit the castle to be with her people while they mourn, she is shocked and touched by how much love and emotion she feels from her people. Her eyes swell up with tears, as if she was feeling what it was like to be a true queen again for the first time in years. There was a whole world she was missing full of love and compassion, and it was waiting for her if she would just go outside once in awhile. Even Tony Blair, who receives the full blow of the ripple effect caused by the royals silence, begins to understand where the Queen is coming from. When his wife encourages Blair to just let the Queen "hang herself," Blair frowns at her and says "You don't understand, this is six hundred years of tradition she's throwing away."
Yes the royals made a mistake, but maybe it wasn't a mistake. Maybe it was a miscalculation. The royals certainly couldn't have predicted what silence would mean to Britain, and they were unprepared for the backlash they received. Maybe they just didn't understand the situation in the first place? Maybe we didn't take the time to understand their feelings, or wonder what their situation was? Maybe it was a combination of all the above? Regardless what the situation was, it was all worth it for a little bit more understanding of each other. For in the midst of confusion, hope shined through.
Rating: **** stars
Everyone knows the story here of the tragic death of Princess Diana, the outpouring of public grief, and the failure of reaction on the part of the Windsors. What is not as well known is the story behind the action where Tony Blair, the new Prime Minister, was able to gradually move Queen Elisabeth to comprehend the public mood and to respond to that mood appropriately. Both characters display the adaptive leadership and necessary flexibility to survive and move the public agenda forward. Blair fully grasps the situation as well as the need to apply just enough pressure to the Queen so that she grows and doesn't retreat. Michael Sheen is super as Tony Blair, using intelligent charm and strategic wit to move the queen to recognition of the gravity of the issues and to take action by showing empathy with the grief of the English people. James Cromwell is excellent as Prince Phillip, sometimes playing the role of the Queen's alter-ego or id with his displays of disgust and indignation. At other times he reveals the isolated and insulated existence of the Windsors that separated them from normal existence. I would recommend this film to be viewed and analyzed in a class on adaptive leadership.
This movie, one of the best of the year, looks at the life of Queen Elizabeth II, during the week of Diana's death. With Tony Blair as a beginning Prime Minister (and played to perfection by actor Michael Sheen), the Queen tries to deal with the Diana's tragic death and the public's perception of how she should grieve. Trying to protect Diana's young sons and preferring to hide at Balmoral, the Queen brings about the wrath of her citizens, seemingly acting in a cold and uncaring way to the death of a woman loved world wide.
The movie is short and conise: the director concentrating on a dramatic time in the Queen's life, a turning point that perhaps changed the idea of the monarchy for the Queen and her public. Mirren seems to fall away, becoming a woman who can't understand how she should be forced to deal with such a private matter in public, but eventually surrendering to the will of her people. I found one scene very interesting, in which she grieves the lost of a brilliant stag, shot on a neighboring territory. She waves him away, hoping to save him from hunters. To me, the stag in a sense, was like Diana, beautiful but hunted incessantly. However, with the stag, it seemed the Queen could grieve much easier and yet found it difficult to deal with the death of her grandchildren's mother.
The cast does an incredible job with their roles (James Cromwell is [...]and mean spirited as Prince Philip) and as I mentioned before, Michael Sheen becomes Tony Blair. The one actor I didn't care for was Alex Jennings who played Prince Charles. He never seemed to get the mannerisms and character of the Prince of Wales, though the film treats him with sympathy as opposed to the other royals. Other than that, this movie is deserving of winning the big award, Best Picture of the Year.
If you enjoy great acting, the royal family or the brilliant Helen Mirren, you must go and see this film. I look forward to the dvd release of this film!
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