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Tony Grist

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The Queen [Sep. 3rd, 2007|09:49 am]
Tony Grist

The Queen got its network premiere last night.

It's a good movie, but I don't believe in it.  I don't think our reigning monarch is anything like the sensitive, self-aware and emotionally literate character Helen Mirren plays. All that side of things is a fantasy- an exploration of the proposition, "what if the Queen were one of us?" Helen's Queen is a changeling- a person with heart who suddenly finds herself at the centre of a heartless institution and is bewildered by the affectlessness of the people around her.  She is a normal person pretending to be abnormal.  In real life the Queen is the one who sets the tone in that family.  The chill emanates from her.

Mirren has a mobile face; it betrays imagination, kindness, a connection to the inner child. The actual Queen Elizabeth II has a face that has been moulded into petulance by sixty years of privilege, unaccountability and a soul-deadening submission to duty. It's unique. You only get a face like that by leading a life like that. You can't fake physiognomy. 

In order for the Queen to shine- which in real life she doesn't- all the other characters have had their wattage reduced. The real Blair is far more charismatic . The real Prince Philip is the brains of the outfit and nothing like the upper-crust thicko we see here. As for Charles- well, the real Charles is a fascinating character- riven with contradictions, ruined by flattery- a well-meaning, emotionally clumsy eccentric who believes himself to be far more intelligent and imaginative than he actually is. Here he becomes the villain of the piece- paranoid, sneaky, disloyal. 

The movie may not be history but it's not untrue.  The details are wrong but the picture is right. 1997 was the year of the revolution that never was.  That's what the movie captures.  Britain might have changed; Britain didn't change. Blair came in promising a new dawn and was almost immediately seduced by the glamour of things as they are. The Queen conquered him just as, a few years later, he was conquered by an American president. Ten years on and we're living in the same world. The public is enthralled by celebrity, New Labour has become the new establishment, Prince Charles sulks in the wings, and the Queen- who has never been more popular- spends her holidays at Balmoral, stalking deer.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shullie
2007-09-03 01:54 pm (UTC)
I so wanted to see it, but we were out at a Family Birthday BBQ, (which was fab), but I agree with your thoughts about the Roayal Family. I have never met any of them in person, and coming from the Republic of South Yorkshire...lol have certain ideas... I'm not a republican in that i want rid... but i do feel that they are often painted romantically ( villinas and all).

My father served under Lord Mountbatten in the 50's, and was abord one of the ships that escorted the Queen home after the news of her father's death. However it was under a dark cloud. He had, earlier, met and fell in love with a young woman on Malta, as did many british service men, and as often happens, an 'accident' occured. Being a young honourable man at the time, he offered to do the decent thing, she said yes, and her family, from what i can gather also said yes, but he had to ask permission of the navy - which shouldn't have been any problem. except that is appeared that she was a niece of the man who would becoem the next prime minister of Malta. Myfather was dragged up in front of Mountbatton - who wouldn't even listen to his requests, he refused permission and my father was shipped out that night. He has never seen his son. His ship did dock in Malta on the way back form escorting the Queen, but he was forbidden from going ashore or making any contact, (which included any form of letter etc.) He did get a picture and name, smuggled to him some time later via a friend, but as he was in the navy for another 2 years he was never allowed back. By the time he got out, he was a young penniless man - returning to the North of England, with no way of getting back under his own steam.

Mountbatten et al had no sympathy for him, no human emotions, no comprehension. My father said he was called a few choice names etc., and dismmised out of hand. He was heart broken for many years.

I suppose he/she/it was political embarassment etc... which could have been handled better, but I think of the coldness my dad described when he tried to plead to Mountbatten to be able to just write and say goodbye etc... and/or see his son, all of which was met with such utter contemp and distain. I think they are, as you desribed, taught from an early age to feel nothing really for those they 'rule'.

Yet my father remains very loyal to the Royal family...

go figure...

My father never went back later as he said he thought that perhaps the boyt had been adopted or that she had been married off, and he didnt want to cause problems. he was a good sailor, and did what he was told!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2007-09-03 02:13 pm (UTC)
That's a sad story. The fact that your father felt no bitterness towards the royals suggests Mountbatten had behaved very much as your father expected him to behave.

I used to want a republic. I now think that's a forlorn hope. The moment for kicking the Windsors out has passed. We had the chance in '97 and we flunked it.

I'd still like to see the expense and flummery trimmed back.
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