Director: Le-Van Kiet
Writers: Ben Lustig, Jake Thornton
Stars: Joey King, Veronica Ngo, Ivo Arakov
The princess uses old news footage, presented without any explanation or talking heads, to create an account of Diana’s public life as it happened, from the days before her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981 until her death in a car accident. in Paris 16. years later. The direct film is not another attempt to speculate on the private Diana, but to show the image of her as the world saw her evolve.
In a statement from the director, Perkins says that by using this “immersive, unmediated” approach to Diana’s life and death, he hopes to find “greater emotional clarity and honesty about those events and the strange power they had, and still have.” , in so many”. people.” That’s a lovely and ambitious idea, but in the end as far removed from reality as pink describes her once-promised personal fairy tale.
The problem is that there is no such thing as an unfiltered experience of the past, especially when a filmmaker collects and curates so many fragments. There is, of course, a narrative, which here might have been called “The Princess and the Press,” with the media presented as the unpleasant obstacle, a giant rock instead of a small pea, that caused the heroine so much difficulty.
Perkins created a much stronger documentary in the fascinating and underrated Tell Me Who I Am, about twin brothers, one of whom had amnesia and the other told him about her life. In The Princess, viewers are asked to bring their own knowledge of Diana to the now-standard version of the story, a narrative that positions Diana as a young woman naive about her royal future in this orchestrated marriage, who became a mother. devoted and miserably unhappy but glamorous wife, and who learned to build her own immense fame and live her own life.
Clips that recreate that history are sometimes illuminating, especially when we witness news coverage of Diana and Charles’s engagement and wedding. From the perspective of today’s harsher media landscape, it is surprising to see how heavily the press promoted the fairy tale myth, with reporters calling the royal engagement a bright spot for Britain in the midst of the 1980s economic downturn. “The monarchy may be an anachronism, but it is an anachronism that the British love,” a reporter voices over scenes of crowds cheering in the street and toasting the newly engaged couple. In a different clip, the voiceover says, “There is no reason to doubt that this is a matter of the heart.”
However, it might have been useful, even essential, to know where this footage came from. We could be listening to the BBC or ABC or some silly, long-forgotten talk show. Was the press misled? Were these two journalists especially swollen? On the media front, Perkins’ immersive approach disappoints viewers, because no one would have experienced such reports in such a veiled way at the time.
Without antecedents, we are often left with a strong irony, thanks to hindsight. As a carriage whisks Charles and Diana away from the church on their wedding day, a reporter’s voice says they are among friends because the military horsemen riding alongside them are “under the command of Lieutenant Colonel. Andrew Parker-Bowles”, and that Charles and Diana had recently stayed “with him and his wife, Camilla” in the country. There could also be a headbutt emoji on screen whenever Camilla appears, now married to Charles, of course, as she does at one of her polo matches during his marriage to Diana.
The videos themselves vary widely in quality, from grainy and blurry in the 1980s to colorful and sharp, a smart choice that contributes to the “you are there” quality. Excerpts are seamlessly edited by Jinx Godfrey and Daniel Lepira, and Perkins largely avoids the more obvious imagery or uses it fleetingly, such as Diana dancing in the White House with John Travolta. But even the lesser-known extracts feel familiar. After all, the press couldn’t get enough of Diana, and the choice of clips is very much based on the well-founded notion that the paparazzi hounded her from start to finish.
As the royal marriage unravels, it also breaks out in public, with sensational reporting of extramarital affairs on both sides, each camp feeding stories to the press. A headline shown here resonates amusingly: “The Royal Slingers,” referring to the Prince and Princess.