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The Queen in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Queen

Helen Mirren • Michael Sheen • James Cromwell
• Sylvia Syms
DIRECTOR: Stephen Frears

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II THE CONCEPT:
A fictional account of real events that took place between the tradition-bound world of the Royal Family and Queen Elizabeth II (Mirren), and the image-conscious, newly-elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Sheen), in the wake of the sudden death of Princess Diana in August 1997.

U.S. RELEASE: October 6 2006, Limited • Rated: PG-13


PETER MORGAN (Screenwriter):
“It was not appropriate to make this film about revelations, and in fact we spent a lot of time, particularly in the Charles subplot, taking stuff out because it just felt inflammatory and the wrong kind of film. It was very easy for this film to become sensational, and that’s not what we wanted to do at all.”

HELEN MIRREN on having tea with the Queen years ago:
“There is a twinkle to her and a relaxation about her that you don’t really see in her formal moments, and her formal moments is what we mostly see; that to all of us is ‘The Queen.’ But there is another queen-woman-Elizabeth Windsor, who is very easy and welcoming, with the most lovely smile, and not that sort of reserved and cool gravitas that she normally communicates. So I very much tried to bring her personality into it.”

STEPHEN FREARS on casting American actor James Cromwell for the role of Prince Philip:
“Prince Philip is a lovable fascist. He’s sort of a comic figure, always putting his foot in it; it’s rather endearing. I’m sure there’s some truth in the jokes, and I’m sure that he’s more than that. And casting Jim somehow gave you an opportunity to get at something slightly more substantial than just having a Pantomime villain.”

“Stephen pushed me a little more towards the outrageous. I tried not to go in that direction, since I’d met Philip and had a lot of respect for him. I believe that his anger and his frustration is that he’s been towing the line for as long as she’s been Queen, he’s learned all the protocol and he’s had to eat it by walking two steps behind her, having no say at all as a man in any decision.”

“Elizabeth was about 16 when she fell in love with Philip. He was a bit like Diana when he was young; he was a bit cool, trendy, hip and wild. She married him and he was quite, I suspect, a macho kind of guy, quite testosterone driven, strong and opinionated. And then she became queen and he had to stay in second place. He has managed to deal with being three steps behind the queen his whole life. It’s difficult for a man. They found a way of living together, which I think is admirable and quite sweet.”

“Dodi Fayed’s father saw the film, and given that there wasn’t actually a scene in which Prince Philip strangled his son in the tunnel, he thought it was extremely fair.”

“The response in England to the film has been bizarre. Anti-Monarchists come out all gooey and weeping, so it connected in some shape or form with some part of the national subconscious in a way one couldn’t have predicted.”

“I think I was in America when I heard the news about Diana. I was quite relieved not to be in Britain at that time. What happened there was disturbing, the public reaction was weird to me, it all became about them; it wasn’t about her. It was like the carnival coming to town, and it was the carnival of death, a carnival of grief – but a carnival, none the less.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Miramax Films
Feature © 2006 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #676, November 2006 cover

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