Movie Review: The Princess Raises the Curtain on England

The film shows us the inner strength that Diana has always had. Photo / Provided

The Princess (109 mins)
Directed by Ed Perkins
Reviewed by Jen Shieff

The Princess is an unusually candid and surprisingly unsentimental insight into Princess Diana’s life, a take unlike any other fictional or documentary account of her. If you think The Princess is anything new, even old, you’re wrong. It will likely soften even Diana’s harshest criticism and grip the most jaded viewers.

Until now, Diana has been seen as the one chosen for her suitability to carry the heir to the throne, who turned out to have star quality as soon as she put on that engagement ring, a shy person, avoiding the mostly the spotlight, sometimes popping up to look for him. Ed Perkins’ film glosses over these familiar aspects of her, instead showing us the inner strength she’s always had and how time has changed not just how we understand her as a person, but also its impact on the monarchy and on society.

Without a huge budget or a large crew, with only real footage and clever editing by Jinx Godfrey and Daniel Lapira, Ed Perkins shows a smart, insightful Diana from the start, with far more depth than Charles.

It’s fascinating to see ordinary people and hear their voices, in ordinary places, like the supermarket, when news of Diana started piling up. Through these clips and through the telephoto lenses of many, many cameras, we see that it was his audience that created one of the most recognized people in the world. Intrigued, they couldn’t get enough of her.

Ed Perkins comes in briefly in this famous interview, where Diana says there were three people in the marriage and admits to falling in love with James Hewitt. It seems at this point that Ed Perkins is challenging us. Do we think Diana is a forgiving brat, or begs for help, and more than that, has our fascination with her stardom somehow made us complicit in her tragic end?

Refreshingly, there’s no voiceover commentary, none of those nosy royal biographers or pompous historians, not even an explanation of who Dodi was, except there’s an image of Harrods and a member of the public. says Diana would need a billionaire to give her the life she was used to.

All the voices are those recorded with the original images, on location. It’s more vivid that way. An anonymous reporter on the night of Diana’s death refers to the BBC’s nightly viewership numbers being typically 800,000, suddenly rising to eight million, and asks us to imagine all the kettles that were on to make tea.

Ed Perkins pulls back the curtain on England as he lights up all those kettles. This is England giving themselves permission to go ahead and let it all out for once. The country was not only mourning Diana. He girded his loins, getting ready to give the royal family the reshuffling of the century.

Highly recommended
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