Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Queen: Jane Tennyson Gets Royal

We had dinner last night with pals Kim and Kelly at El Loco, a sort of nouveau Mexican restaurant. Very good and healthy dishes (whole wheat quesadilla!), good taste, although it did not quite assuage my longing for Tony's quesos flameados. Then we headed over to the Spectrum 8 to catch a film; well, when I say we, three of us went -- Kim, poor Kim, went home to grade. How very sad!

We saw The Queen featuring the always reliable Helen Mirren, who when she's not classing up horrible fiascos like Caligula or bringing criminals to heel in Prime Suspect uses her spare time to turn in Oscar-worthy performances. Or at least Golden Globes, as of today I gather. It is a fantastic performance -- I won't say it makes you sympathize with the queen, but you do kind of pity her for being a living antique in a world that finds her veneer unfashionable.

It takes place at the time of Diana's death (even now still making headlines) and shows the chilly reaction the royals have to the event in contrast to the tears and wailing of the public. It's amazing the effect it had -- seeing the footage again I still found it hard to grasp. If he had married Parker Bowles (and no, it's not possible to hear that name without hearing "Nooooo!"), it wouldn't have happened, yes for all kinds of reasons, but mostly because she's plain. Because Diana was beautiful, people projected all kinds of feelings onto her. We're easy prey to glamor.

As the film unfolds, the then-fresh Tony Blair (Bright Young Thing Michael Sheen) realizes the mistake the family is making and tries to get them to "modernize" but they don't seem up to the task (James Cromwell is not nearly vicious enough to be Prince Philip). The bubble that surrounds them is well maintained by Lord High Everything Else Robin (played by the wonderful Roger Allam, last seen as the very evil Prothero in V for Vendetta) who is genuinely stunned to see other servants crying over Diana, assuming they all share his opinion of her (which is of course the queen's).

There's a bit of heavy handed symbolism, but it's such an interesting story and Mirren is just captivating as HRH. It'll be interesting to see if she does get the Oscar nod; considering that she doesn't die or play a hooker, the odds seem against it. But the gorgeous scenery of Scotland -- wow, it was just lovely and made me want to back again. A nice long tour of the highlands would be wonderful: maybe when we win the lottery!

This morning on our walk we stumbled across a baker's dozen of wild turkeys. We wouldn't have seen them at all if we weren't tsking about all the junk people had chucked from the their cars on Boght Road, but there they were. Some were sitting on a fallen tree, the others pecking about on the ground. When they realized we weren't continuing our walk, they started to slowly make an exit. We tried to get a snap of them, but they were far away with too many trees in between. So here's a picure from the Michigan government:

Ooh -- forgot to mention! They showed The History Boys trailer before the film -- coming December 22. Hurrah!


redtown said...

The one character not developed in the film was Diana herself. While she remains the icon of superficial popular culture, it was a very different Diana -- behind the facades of glamour and pseudo-compassion -- whom the Royal family knew personally.

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. 

From a BPD perspective, it's clear that the Royal family did not cause her "problems". Rather, she 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.

C. Margery Kempe said...

Interesting comment! She certainly is more a force than a character in the film, lending a certain presence via the frequent visual clips, but not really part of the story.

On the other hand, I think it's a bit facile to say "suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder caused by their mother's abandoning them as young children." After all, many people are left by parents and do not develop BPD -- you have to have a predisposition. Certainly a parent's abandonment will have a greater effect on someone with BPD.