Fascinating Dramatic Glimpse into Another World
Release Date: September 29, 2006
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 103 minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films/Buena Vista/Walt Disney Company
Director: Stephen Frears
Writer: Peter Morgan
Address Comments To:Daniel Battsek, President
(A Division of Buena Vista Distribution Company/The Walt Disney Company)
375 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone: (323) 822-4100 and (917) 606-5500
Fax: (323) 822-4216
The movie starts off on May 2, 1997, when Tony Blair, as head of the Labour Party, wins the office of Prime Minister by a landslide. Queen Elizabeth, played exquisitely by Helen Mirren, comments to her portrait painter that she wishes she could vote just once in her life. She wants to take a side just once. Her comment reveals that she is trapped in a job that she did not choose and that she has had to dedicate her life to serving the United Kingdom. As Queen, she must now ask Tony Blair to head up the government. Her job as Queen is to advise the Prime Minister. Tony's wife, Cherie, is a republican who would like to see the monarchy disappear and laughs at the protocol.
Tony, played so well by Michael Sheen that the audience believes they're watching the real Tony Blair, went to the same boarding schools as the Prince of Wales, and his father was a Conservative. He respects the Queen, who is the same age that his mother would have been if she had not died when he was at university. Thus, there is a thinly veiled mother and son relationship between Tony and the Queen.
On August 31, in the middle of the night, crisis strikes when Princess Diana, who has recently divorced Prince Charles, dies with Dodi Fayed in a car accident in Paris. The Queen, coming from the World War II generation, believes that you have to keep a stiff upper lip, that you don't display your emotions on your sleeve, and that this is a private affair. Tony Blair, on the other hand, realizes this is the People's Princess and gives a speech that endears him to England and to the world.
As the Queen and her family remain in mourning at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the people of Great Britain become more and more agitated and angry that the Queen doesn't come out to display and share their mourning, their grief and their emotions. Tony understands the Queen and the people. He tries to get the Queen to come out of mourning.
In the midst of the crisis, she drives into the countryside to confront a magnificent, 14-point stag deer. Like her, this deer is trapped and has no control over its own life.
Tony finally convinces the Queen to return to London when he tells her over the phone the latest poll data that a large number of people want to abolish the monarchy, including his wife. The Queen, who has been trying to protect Diana's boys, finally understands, but it may be too late.
Even if you know this story, this movie will grab your heart. Laughter and tears consumed the screening audience. The drama written by Peter Morgan avoids the facile condemnation of the Queen and does not satirize the situation. It gives deep insight into the Queen's struggles and into Tony Blair's struggles. Thus, it illuminates a critical, pivotal point in history.
The direction by Stephen Frears is brilliant. Stephen keeps each moment pregnant with emotion and has the audience believe that they are seeing the real people. This is quite an achievement since most of us have lived through the story and know these people. Believing that these actors are the historical figures is incredible.
Tony Blair really bridges the gap between the old and the new. He confesses God while some of his minions profane Him.
The Queen also confesses God. She believes that the job of king killed her father before his time, and she honors the oath that she took to God to serve the United Kingdom. She does not see herself as a bon vivant but as a servant. She has the authority of someone who understands reality. At a couple points when she talks about God's blessing in the movie, the audience giggled, although it would be impossible to know the mindset of the reviewers, it appeared that they did not understand how deeply her faith was integrated into her person.
Helen Mirren and Michael Sheen deserve Oscars. When Helen Mirren confronts the deer, it is a poignant epiphany.
In many ways, this is a conservative movie made by people who are not conservative. There have been a run of movies like this. WORLD TRADE CENTER, ALL THE KING'S MEN and now THE QUEEN. In America, we believe that conservatism is in opposition to monarchy. The movie, however, gives an understanding of both sides of the issue, which most political textbooks cannot. This is very rare.
Many people are suggesting that THE QUEEN should be up for many Academy Awards. If it is not, then the Academy has truly gone off its rocker, because this is a rare movie indeed that works on all levels and is fascinating to watch.
Even if you know this story, this brilliant movie will grab your heart. Laughter and tears consumed the screening audience. Although it has a lot of humor, pathos and drama, the movie is not mean-spirited, satiric or cynical. The drama, written by Peter Morgan, gives deep insight into the Queen's and Tony Blair's struggles. Thus, it illuminates a critical, pivotal point in history. This is a rare movie that works on all levels and is fascinating to watch.