The 2006 film. The Queenwritten by Peter Morgandramatizes the immediate consequences of the death of Princess Diana. Much of the conflict stems from Queen Elizabeth’s reluctance to publicly address her subjects’ pain, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair begged her to speak out.
In the fourth episode of the sixth and final season of The crown, Morgan is essentially remaking his previous film. Only this time the anguished voice of the people is not Tony Blair, but Prince carlos. It’s a telling choice, less indicative of a writer not wanting to repeat himself than of Morgan’s change in attitude toward royalty since The Queen was released. That movie, and even the early days of The crown, treated the monarchy with at least as much skepticism as affection, if not more. However, over the years the balance has tipped increasingly in favor of the House of Windsor, and particularly certain members of it. The show is not blind to the failures of the Royal family as an institution and as individuals. But she long ago stopped feeling that Morgan was writing about them from a purely outside perspective. He now presents himself as an explorer gone native. While the series has in the past treated various prime ministers as characters with the same narrative weight as most royals, Blair is an afterthought here. This is a conflict between queen and prince, rather than between aristocrat and public official, because Prince Charles, improbably, has become the tragic hero of The crown.
Netflix is splitting this final season in half. The first four episodes, covering the weeks immediately before and after the car accident that killed Diana (played again by Elizabeth Debicki) and her boyfriend Dodi Fayed (Khalid Abdalla), are now available. The final six, which take the royals into the 21st century, but don’t go all the way. Meghan Markle years, will arrive on December 14. At one point, Imelda Staunton’s Queen Elizabeth observes, regarding Diana’s strange position within the family after her divorce, “I always say it’s hard to be half of something.” In this case, however, this collection of episodes feels like a complete, if frustrating, unit.
The thesis of these episodes is that Diana’s death was almost exclusively the fault of Dodi and, especially, Dodi’s rich and imperious father, Mohamed Al-Fayed (Salim Dau). Season five treated Mohamed’s desperation to ingratiate himself with royalty as a sad but understandable flaw. Here, he is presented as ruthless, controlling, and oblivious to the impact his manipulations have on both Diana and her son. And Dodi, in turn, is treated like a cowardly daddy’s boy whose inability to read the room ultimately dooms him and his relatively new girlfriend. Much of the narrative treats a collection of photographs of Diana and Dodi on vacation together, taken by Mario Brenna (which earned him a small fortune from the British newspapers that published them) as the turning point that led the paparazzi to pursue Diana so aggressively that she caused the Paris car accident. Depending on who you asked in the late ’90s, Brenna stumbled upon the couple almost by accident, or was tipped off by Diana herself, as part of her ongoing public relations war with Charles (Dominic West). Here, it is Mohamed who points Brenna towards them, intending to show the world that her son is having an affair with a princess and, perhaps, pressure Diana into seeing Dodi as her inevitable new husband. . The episodes weigh so overwhelmingly against the duo that even after the death of his son, we see Mohamed seeing this as a last chance to bond with the queen. He is cartoon villainy, in a show that has previously attempted to have nuance and at least some degree of empathy with almost every historical figure he represents. There are certainly many things Mohamed could be convicted of (allegations of sexual harassment and assault, or his later attempts to accuse the royal of perpetrating a conspiracy to assassinate Diana), but Morgan addresses his thirst for acceptance by the royals. as the real crime that makes him worthy of all this condemnation.
Beyond that, Morgan runs into the dramatic problem that Dodi was a relatively minor figure in Diana’s life until that terrible night in Paris. They had only been dating for a couple of months, and although Mohamed would later claim that they were engaged and/or that Diana was pregnant with Dodi’s child, all other signs suggested that it was still just a fling right before their car crashed. . that tunnel. But because Diana’s death is such a huge part of the royal family’s history (even Charles immediately acknowledges that “this is going to be the biggest thing any of us have ever seen”), Morgan feels compelled to build up the whole story. this section of the season. around that relationship. There’s even a scene at the end of the third episode in which Morgan imagines what Diana and Dodi’s final conversation was like, clearly designed as a sequel to the fascinating argument sequence between Diana and Charles at the end of season five. He doesn’t have anywhere near the weight of the previous one because Dodi is much less important to Diana and to him. The crown.
Morgan frequently makes the symbolism much denser than in previous seasons. As part of her charitable work to help raise awareness of the dangers of landmines and help mine survivors, Diana travels to Bosnia and walks through a minefield in front of photographers. This was a cause that the real Diana passionately supported in her later years, but the show treats it primarily as a way to underline the metaphorical minefield she was crossing at the time with Dodi and the paparazzi. And on the day of her death, when the paparazzi have Diana in their sights, we see Prince William hunting his first deer in Scotland.
And regarding the crisis and the days that followed, the decisions Morgan makes about what to show and what not to show seem at times intelligent in their restraint, and at other times confusing. This is obviously the most sensitive event the series will ever depict. So it feels like this is actually Morgan’s turn to walk through the minefield, sometimes walking away just before stepping on a mine, sometimes backing away even though there’s no real danger in front of him. When he is willing to make up certain conversations, such as the Diana and Dodi scene, he is reluctant to let the audience see, or in some cases hear, what is said as the family learns of this.
There are still some rewards left in the midst of all this. Elizabeth Debicki continues to radiate the right degree of star power as Diana. Dominic West holds absolutely nothing back in portraying Charles experiencing more pain than he could have imagined over the death of a woman he had fought against for so long. And Staunton deftly shows how much Elizabeth’s silent reactions are a result of the queen’s understanding of the nature of her public role, and how much they stem from her fundamental misunderstanding of this moment in British history.
Morgan designed The crown as a means of dramatizing, sometimes through meticulous research, sometimes through sheer invention, what was happening to royalty away from the eyes of the public. The problem it has run into in these last few seasons is that there is very little that the audience doesn’t already know about what happened between Charles and Diana, and particularly about the events surrounding their deaths. The only way the series could have avoided chronicling this tragedy would have been to end earlier, either with their wedding or their divorce. Perhaps there was no way to elegantly cover this part of the story, even in the early days, when Morgan could see the whole complicated picture from 30,000 feet above. But now that he is emotionally embedded so deeply in this world, it seems like an impossible task, and one in which The crownlike his queen, he’s not entirely sure how to approach it.
The first four episodes of The crown Season six is now streaming on Netflix.
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