September 24, 2006

Imaginative filmmaking about living public figures.

Two weeks ago we were talking -- and talking -- about whether it was wrong for filmmakers -- in "The Path to 9/11" -- to make up scenes and dialogue depicting real public figures engaged in historical events. Here's another example of that sort of thing:
In Stephen Frears’s new movie, “The Queen,” Elizabeth II is shown driving a Range Rover at her family’s remote Scottish retreat, trapped in an unpleasant conversation with her eldest son, Prince Charles.

The subject is Diana, Princess of Wales, whose death that week has sent Britain into a convulsion of collective grief (not shared by the royal family). When an emotionally confused Charles begins to babble about what a good mother Diana was — physically affectionate, full of love — it is clear what he is really saying: “You never hugged me as a child.”

That’s it for him. Abruptly the queen gets out of the car and opens the back door, liberating a passel of eager dogs. Her voice lifts. “Walkies!” she trills.

The situation is of course imagined, the pair played by actors (Helen Mirren as the queen, Alex Jennings as Charles), the dialogue wholly made up and the filmmaker’s undertaking a daring one.
Imagine Queen Elizabeth demanding that the movie be yanked -- britted? -- the way Clinton did about "The Path to 9/11."


David said...

For better or worse, if you are a public figure you are fair game! Over the years, the royal family have been a treasure trove of juicy tidbits!

The difference is, they usually aren't 'cheeky' enough to lend dignity to the misdeed under consideration!

JohnF said...

Many of the Clintons' successes during their administration were based on their war room, which always had instant action in response to any criticism, no matter how minor. The response usually had two features: ad hominem attacks on the troublemaker, and either a factual rebuttal or smokescreen on the merits.

It is thus hard for them to leave that technique behind, despite the unseemliness of its application in Bill's current position.

Elizabeth II, by contrast, has been above the fray forever.

The Drill SGT said...

David said...
The difference is, they usually aren't 'cheeky' enough to lend dignity to the misdeed under consideration!

I agree. The Queen has a long memory however. Frears can expect not to ever be Sir Stephen, KCBE. I note that Dame Helen already got her knighthood.

tiggeril said...

I can't imagine a more overrated person than Diana.

The Drill SGT said...

tiggeril said...
I can't imagine a more overrated person than Diana.

Careful now laddie. You can dis the Queen all you want, but when you talk about Diana, your talking bout my family. ;)

JorgXMcKie said...

I dunno. Jimmy Carter? I mean if we're handicapping the overrated race.

Also, is the Queen a Lefty? If not, she probably has no interest in re-writing history in any event.

Jason said...

Does the Queen even know how to drive? Regardless, from everything I've read, she's a vindictive, airheaded bitch. Why England puts up with her and all her loser kids, is beyond me.

Todd said...

"Britted." I love that.

Morven said...

The British put up with the Queen because the alternative might be worse. The system of having a figurehead head-of-state for all the ceremonial stuff and having someone else do all the actual governing seems to work quite well.

Anonymous said...

Tiggeril said,
"I can't imagine a more overrated person than Diana."

Indeed, Diana remains the poster girl of superficial, popular culture. But it was a very different Diana the Royal family had to deal with.

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.