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The Queen w. Helen Mirren


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#1 of 27 OFFLINE   Haggai

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Posted October 07 2006 - 01:48 PM

The almost unanimously ecstatic reviews for this movie had my expectations set pretty high for when I saw it earlier today, and I was happy to find that it was definitely worth the hype. As can be expected, Helen Mirren is brilliant, and the rest of the cast is great as well. The interplay between her and Tony Blair (an excellent performance by Michael Sheen) is the center of the two-sided dramatic arc, as he gradually becomes more cognizant of the importance of her role in British society, and she becomes more aware of how things have changed within the society (and her place within it) over the course of her lifetime. Aside from a lame attempt at symbolism involving a stag being hunted on the royal estate, it's a terrifically executed movie, from start to finish.

I was never much interested in the royals in general or Diana in particular, so I wasn't too wrapped up in the events surrounding her death back when it happened. I hadn't even remembered anything about a controversy surrounding the royal family's response, or lack thereof, which is the centerpiece of this movie. But I have to say, during the real-life footage that's included of people breaking down by the side of the road as her funeral motorcade passed by, and some of them turn out to be big beefy-looking yob types who are sobbing uncontrollably, I couldn't help feeling a little verklempt myself, as my people sometime say.

#2 of 27 OFFLINE   SteveJKo

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Posted October 08 2006 - 01:39 AM

Haggai I've been hearing a LOT about this film over the past month or so, glad to hear that it lives up to all the talk surrounding it. Do you know when it goes into general release? I'm assuming it is currently only playing in a few large cities at select theatres. Lastly, should Helen Mirren be dusting off a spot on her mantle in anticipation of next February?
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#3 of 27 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted October 08 2006 - 03:01 AM

We saw the trailer for this before The Departed, and my wife went nuts for it. Where is it playing, Haggai?

Looking forward to this film quite a bit,
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#4 of 27 OFFLINE   Haggai

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Posted October 08 2006 - 03:14 AM

I posted this in the Oscar thread yesterday, about Mirren.

Chuck, it's only playing at Bethesda Row for now. But since you saw a trailer, I guess it might be in general release before too long. I assume it's doing big business in its limited release so far, as the theater was packed at the show I went to yesterday afternoon, and the next one later in that afternoon was already sold out when I arrived.

#5 of 27 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted October 09 2006 - 06:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggai
I was happy to find that it was definitely worth the hype
It really is, which is a remarkable feat when you consider that the main events and characters are so familiar to most of the audience. I think you put your finger on it when you mentioned the archival footage of real mourners. The film is so deft at mixing the real and the recreated that you're genuinely transported into the events as if they were happening now.

I agree with you that Mirren's a leading contender for the Oscar, and it would certainly be well-deserved (and long overdue).

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#6 of 27 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted October 09 2006 - 08:04 AM

Quote:
But I have to say, during the real-life footage that's included of people breaking down by the side of the road as her funeral motorcade passed by, and some of them turn out to be big beefy-looking yob types who are sobbing uncontrollably
The film has gained almost universally good reviews in the UK. I think it's worth noting that from a Brit perspective, the film probably has a slightly different resonance.

Put bluntly:

(1) the cry-babies along the funeral route were only ever a minority. As a BBC documentary made at the time (but kept under wraps for a year or so) amply demonstrated, the majority of Brits couldn't understand what the fuss was about and were either embarrassed or disgusted about the behaviour of this wailing minority.

(2) the reaction to Princess Di's death shows one of the most astonishing about-faces in media opinion ever. After her death she was suddenly a saint. A few days earlier, an opinion poll commissioned by the same gutter press that was now canonising her had found that 80% of the British public were pig sick of what were described as her publicity-seeking antics and two-faced behaviour.

The reason for giving this information is to scotch the widespread belief outside the UK that every Brit except the Queen was blubbing their eyes out. If anything, the Queen was expressing the majority opinion and sentiment.
At the risk of name-dropping, the day the funeral was televised, we had houseguests who knew Princess Di reasonably well (to the extent of having dined with her) and any sadness they might have felt was overwhelmed by disgust at the behaviour of the crowds. This may be purely a Brit reaction, but clapping the hearse is just so beyond the pale that it is offensive. A funeral procession should be dignified - and above all, silent (maybe things are different in other countries, and I can respect that)

It's fascinating to compare the funeral of Diana with that of the other 'big' funerals in recent decades - those of the Queen Mother or Winston Churchill. Both might have justified major outbursts of emotion (Churchill's especially), but both were greeted with dignity. Ditto arguably the funeral of Ronald Reagan, which I happened to see and which I found impressive in its solemnity.

I'm not trying to side-track the thread, but I think it's worth spelling out the background most Brit viewers bring to this picture, which is likely to be very different.

Oh yes - and I agree about Helen M and the Oscar. It'll be interesting to see what they do in the BAFTAS.

#7 of 27 OFFLINE   Craig S

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Posted October 09 2006 - 08:33 AM

Looking forward to this one. To answer Chuck's question, it is expanding starting this weekend. I believe it will be wide in the US by the end of the month.

Right now the Oscar is Mirren's, unless some unforeseen blockbuster performance comes out of nowhere. As Michael said, long overdue.

Andrew, your perspective from across the Pond is (as always) very illuminating.

Three truths about movies, as noted by Roger Ebert:

 

* It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it.

* No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough.

* No good movie is depressing, all bad movies are depressing.


#8 of 27 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted October 10 2006 - 03:30 AM

Quote:
but I think it's worth spelling out the background most Brit viewers bring to this picture, which is likely to be very different
Not necessarily. Diana's antics may not have been as big a topic in the U.S. as in Britain, but they were certainly a favorite subject for our tabloids and "celebrity" journalists. As I watched the film, I found myself wondering to what extent the British press's about-face after her death was an attempt to pre-empt charges that the media were complicit in hounding her into an early grave.

One of the many things I liked about the film was how it keeps the point of view firmly within the royal family and the government. The "public" reaction is presented almost exclusively through the media, with the film's characters constantly watching TV and reviewing the latest headlines. It's a nice way of making the point that this was, as much as anything, a media event. And in the final scene between Blair and the Queen, there are some choice words about the speed with which "public opinion" can turn.

One of the many brilliant elements in Mirren's performance is the way that, by the end, her stoic Elizabeth emerges as a character of deep, though largely unseen, emotion. It's a product of numerous small touches, like a quick scene in which she pauses outside the room of her two grandchildren and looks in at their father consoling them. These are a queen and three princes, but at that moment they are just family.

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#9 of 27 OFFLINE   DeeF

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Posted October 10 2006 - 09:13 AM

I saw the movie too, and am apparently the only person in the world a bit disappointed in it.

But something someone has mentioned has me interested — do we think this movie is primarily for Americans that don't know the turn of events well enough?

#10 of 27 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted October 10 2006 - 01:20 PM

I felt this is the strongest film I've seen all year and I was one of the ones that hated that there was nothing else on TV or in the newspapers for a solid two weeks following the crash announcement interrrupting the premiere of Saturday Night Live. I think I even managed to avoid hearing Candle in Wind in its entirety for the next year or so.

But this film made me teary and I finally understood and 'got' some of the emotions involved in this event, and I did remember just how much it did impact all my female relatives. And I think they're going to LOVE this film.

Hellen Mirren is superb, as is Alex Jennings as Prince Charles. The rest of the cast is excellent, especially Michael Sheen, but I was most convinced by Mirren and Jennings.


Not being British, I'm confused about who Prince Philip (Cromwell) is in real life though. When he initially showed up in the film, I half wondered if he was her lover or her husband... He's married to HRH but not the king? Is he Charles' father? Can only one of royal blood be king or queen otherwise they remain princess or prince even after their spouse is coronated? I presume the Queen Mother is Elizabeth's mother, but she was never queen herself? Can Elizabeth step down as queen and see her son or grandson crowned king instead? Would she then be the Queen Mother or Queen Grandmother? Or can succession only take place when she dies? Would a coronation ceremony in today's world be as big an event as Diana and Charles' wedding and Diana's funeral?
 

#11 of 27 OFFLINE   Haggai

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Posted October 10 2006 - 03:10 PM

Yes, Prince Phillip is Charles' father, he's not the king, and the Queen Mum is...well...the queen's mum!

I believe the way it works with royal spouses is that the wife of a king is a "queen consort," and the husband of a queen is a "prince consort" (corrections welcome).

#12 of 27 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted October 10 2006 - 09:34 PM

Quote:
Not being British, I'm confused about who Prince Philip (Cromwell) is in real life though. When he initially showed up in the film, I half wondered if he was her lover or her husband... He's married to HRH but not the king? Is he Charles' father? Can only one of royal blood be king or queen otherwise they remain princess or prince even after their spouse is coronated? I presume the Queen Mother is Elizabeth's mother, but she was never queen herself? Can Elizabeth step down as queen and see her son or grandson crowned king instead? Would she then be the Queen Mother or Queen Grandmother? Or can succession only take place when she dies? Would a coronation ceremony in today's world be as big an event as Diana and Charles' wedding and Diana's funeral?

It's okay, most of these questions would baffle a good many Brits!

Okay, let's go through them:

(1) The monarch can marry anyone (with or without royal blood) they like other than (I think) a Roman Catholic (this is for historical reasons and also because the monarch is 'head' of the Anglican church - note that several members of the royal family who aren't likely to be heirs to the throne are catholics and the present queen has attended catholic services to emphasise there's no ill-will). For historical (and it has got to be said, sexist) reasons, a queen's husband cannot be made king - that would mean that he would be above her in the hierarchy. However, the wife of a king can be made queen.
In fact, these rules are less cast in bronze than is realised - e.g. it's generally rumoured that the rule book could have been re-written and Prince Philip could have been made king at the time of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, but a rearguard action by some stuffy courtiers prevented it happening. When or if Prince Charles becomes king (and just to confuse matters, he'll be called King George VII if he does) Camilla will not be crowned queen (because they both are divorced, this would felt to be an affront to the Churches of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, which the monarch is supposed to lead) but will be given the title of Royal Consort.

(2) Yes, Prince Philip (aka the Duke of Edinburgh) is Charles's father.

(3) The Queen Mother (now dead) was Queen - she was married to King George VI, the present Queen's father and produced two children - Elizabeth (the eldest) and Margaret (now dead, and in fact predeceased the Queen Mother). When King George VI died, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II. [Similarly, if Queen Elizabeth dies, Charles should become king - Prince Philip doesn't inherit the title]. The title of 'Queen Mother' was, I believe, invented as a title for her. I don't think the title was officially used before this, but I'm happy to be corrected.

(4) Can the Queen abdicate and leave the throne to her son or eldest grandson? Technically, yes. Whether she will is debatable. There are rumours (and I stress only rumours) that she was thinking of abdicating at seventy but felt that Charles wasn't worthy of taking over as king. Can the crown 'skip' a generation and go to Prince William? Yes, in theory. If the Queen has a long life (and bear in mind her mother was over 100 when she died) then Charles may be felt to be too old to become king and his son may get the crown. The Queen's title post-abdication is not known.

(5) What importance would a coronation ceremony have is an interesting question. I suspect that in spite of the royal family's growing unpopularity in the UK, the ceremony would attract massive crowds (e.g. witness the massive crowds celebrating the Queen's fifty years on the throne).

#13 of 27 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted October 10 2006 - 09:36 PM

andrew answered it a aplit second before I posted another question about the queen's mother.

So were Diana and Prince Phillip just average upper crust or were the marraiges arranged?
 

#14 of 27 OFFLINE   andrew markworthy

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Posted October 11 2006 - 07:51 AM

Quote:
So were Diana and Prince Phillip just average upper crust or were the marraiges arranged?
Prince Phillip is in fact from a royal family - he was part of the royal family of Greece (when they still had a monarchy) which (for rather complex reasons) traces its roots back to one of the scandanavian royal families. Hence in the UK he's sometimes called 'Phil the Greek' and shown in cartoons serving behind the counter in a kebab shop (most Brit kebab restaurants, etc are owned by people of Greek descent). Diana was in fact a 'commoner' - although her father was an earl, he wasn't part of the royal family.

As to whether the marriages were arranged, this is a difficult question to answer. Royal marriages aren't forced on people, but generally their choices are severely restricted. They nearly always marry another royal or a member of the aristocracy. The reason is simply that you need to be born into that sort of life to be able to tolerate it - the rigidly strict protocol, being used to being apart from 'normal' people, etc. Diana was expected to behave in this way, because she was from the 'right sort of background', but didn't, and hence the divorce.

With regard to Prince Phillip, he was a relation of Lord Mountbatten, who was v. closely involved with the royal family, and it is said that he basically arranged for the two to meet and engineered the courtship. Incidentally, although from the 'right' background, Prince Philip was not particularly wealthy when he married.

#15 of 27 OFFLINE   Dave Hackman

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Posted November 15 2006 - 02:18 PM

Knowing so little about the royal family and Princess Diana a part of me wondered if maybe I was too out of the loop to enjoy this. Thankfully, that was not the case as this story takes a humanistic approach that is relevant to all people.

This wonderfully presented film takes a confident approach that never becomes uppity. Balance exists between the royal family and those around them.

As for Helen Mirren’s portrayal of the Queen, I don’t know how similar she was but I will say I loved her character. Her deep-rooted steadfast way of behaving came from years of conditioning and proved to be a challenge for Tony Blair. The internal struggle she goes through is great to see.

Michael Sheen played Tony Blair wonderfully and he is the engine that propels the film. My favorite moment is when Blair responds passionately to his wife’s verbal opinion on the Queen’s ineptitude. It’s extremely moving since it takes awhile for him to get to that point.

The speeches made in memory of Diana are equally moving. Blair’s is good but Diana’s brother really gets to you. I know more about Jessica Simpson then Diana and I was sad.

This is worth seeing.

A

#16 of 27 OFFLINE   SteveJKo

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Posted November 17 2006 - 01:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Hackman
...Michael Sheen played Tony Blair wonderfully and he is the engine that propels the film....

Well stated Dave. I caught the film at a matinee earlier this week. As expected I loved Helen Mirren as the Queen. What I didn't expect was how much I would enjoy Michael Sheen's performance as Tony Blair. This film should be receiving at least TWO Oscar nominations in a few months.
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#17 of 27 OFFLINE   Adam_S

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Posted November 17 2006 - 05:28 AM

which two?

by my estimates it's extremely strong for four, Picture, Director, Actress, Screenplay and pretty damn likely for Costume, Makeup, Supporting Actor, Score, with a decent shot at Production Design.
 

#18 of 27 OFFLINE   SteveJKo

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Posted November 17 2006 - 05:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam_S
which two....

Mirren and Sheen's performances were the "at least" two, though I can easily see it getting the nod in other categories as well.
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#19 of 27 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted January 20 2007 - 01:49 PM

"The Queen" is a look into how the royal family handled the death of Princess Diana in late August of 1997, which coincided with the arrival of then-new prime minister Tony Blair doing his best to coax some public relations gestures from the royal family (treated Diana's death as a private matter from the onset) in the wake of such a tragic event for fans of Diana worldwide in order to preserve/sustain public opinion the monarchy in a non-negative light.

Initially, I wasn't all that into Helen Mirren's performance as Queen Elizabeth in "The Queen" as my expectations were high from all the accolodes she's been receiving in awards season currently, but something just clicks in the 2nd act of the film where Mirren is not simply playing a part, but inhabits it with grace and uncertainty in a world where instaneous access to images and events from around the world can be had with a flip of a channel or a click of a mouse (plus an unrelenting press doesn't help matters), and traditions of old need more nuanced management of public perception than previously required. Needless to say, Mirren's performance is worth all the kudos she's been given of late. Michael Sheen as Tony Blair, is also up to the challenge, his Blair is able to see the larger perspective from the monarchy's view while also balancing the appropriate response from the government.

I give it 3.5 stars, or a grade of B+.
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#20 of 27 OFFLINE   David Williams

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Posted January 20 2007 - 06:02 PM

I was knocked out of my socks by this movie. I figured with all the hype that it couldn't possibly live up to it, but the film surpassed it. With the exception of James Cromwell's prominence, after a while you almost forget you are watching a movie and not a documentary... that's how well Mirren, Sheen & Co. play their roles.

My favorite scene in the movie is the one where Queen Elizabeth fords the river and busts up the undercarriage of the Land Rover. Helen Mirren, and by extension the character, justs shines in that moment of scrappiness & epiphany.
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