Wednesday, March 07, 2007

HER MAJ

Aside

I went to see the film ‘The Queen’ with mixed feelings. I have always had a rather proprietary feeling about her; like an elder sister although she is the elder. We had parallel lives – OK, so she was in a palace and I was in a council house but we were school girls in the war, got married, had babies and grew old together.

When I compare our lives and what we have done with them I am humbled and full of admiration. For sixty years she has put duty to her country before everything and been steadfast and courageous throughout. Thank God she married for love and has had the support of a strong, if at times irascible man – Prince Phillip.

She looks happier now than she has for years. Princess Margaret had always been a concern for her and it must have been so painful for her to see the sister who had always been the life and soul of any party reduced to the pathetic creature she became. The Queen Mother, for all her charm, was unbelievably extravagant and remained so to the end.

I met Helen Mirren when she was a young actress and even in those days it was clear
that when she was on stage the play was in safe hands. She had an assurance and maturity beyond her years and in this film she is faithful to the Queen and captured her essence. The film was as personal as looking back on one’s own cine films and one felt the grief again at the tragic death of Diana. It wasn’t – as some cynics said – an excuse for all the misfits to have a mutual cry- in but a universal sense of loss and sympathy for the two Princes. The film hinges around this event but it isn’t all sad and there are some amusing asides from both the Queen and Phillip.

There are clever touches like the olives in the Queen Mum’s drink, the old lace edged bed linen and the queen in mumsy slippers and cosy dressing gown hugging a hottie (hot water bottle). We are told she should be addressed as Ma’am to rhyme with ham – not charm. The non Royals are faithfully portrayed with the character of Cherie Blair representing the anti Royals who think HM is a waste of space.

There are a number of memorable moments such as when the Queen offers to place a little girl’s bunch of flowers on the sea of flowers for Diana and the little girl says ‘no’ abruptly and then says the flowers are ‘for you’. The restrained emotion on Helen’s face brings tears to the eyes. There is the dramatic ripple of applause after Charles Spencer’s (Diana’s brother) speech which was so riveting in real life.

My favourite moment is when the Queen in Balmoral is very stressed and takes off in four wheel drive to find the hunting party. Her staff offer to drive her as it means fording a river but typically she doesn’t want to bother them and gets stuck on the far side of the river. This is the last straw and she has a silent sob until something makes her look up and she sees a magnificent stag looking so beautiful in that glorious setting.

It is a heart-stopping moment and MTL and I disagreed about the symbolism. He said it was Diana hunted by the press as the stag was being hunted but to me the stag was her beloved father George, who had instilled in her the sense of purpose and duty and who many believe sacrificed his life for the country. The stag gave her the courage to go on.

Go and see it and make up your own mind. Just a few minor quibbles; Prince Phillip was the George Clooney de nos jours and the actor playing him captured the irascibility without the charm. (In real life this actor has protested to the Queen about the use of bear fur for Guards hats.) The script didn’t allow the Queen Mum to demonstrate her famous charm and the Queen’s walk wasn’t quite right – she does not stomp! I thoroughly enjoyed the film, the scenery and the music and would happily see it again.

24 comments:

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I can't wait to see this film. I think Helen Mirren is a fabulous actress and I admire the Queen too. Her's is not a life one could envy much.

PI said...

Sam: I have to admit she is one of my heroes and I was hissing somewhat every time Cherie Blair opened he rather large mouth, in the film!

R. Sherman said...

I agree with Sam, re: Helen Mirren. As for royalty in general, you'll forgive us Americans, if we don't quite get it. I will say, that given the rather public problems with her children, Elizabeth II seems to have held up pretty well.

Cheers.

PI said...

Yes Randall most men think Helen is fabulous and her mazoomahas have nothing to do with it! I hear what you are saying about the Royals but Elizabeth is special.

Kath said...

I enjoyed the film, and I also teared up during the moment when the little girl gave the Queen flowers.
This may sound funny, but I felt an emotional connection for (with?) the Queen throughout the film. Doesn't really make sense, but I don't know how else to explain it!
I admire Queen Elizabeth very much, and love to hear about her and her husband.

f:lux said...

I'll be interested to see this film now - love Helen Mirren and director Stephen Frears, and enjoyed your review Pat too!

PI said...

Karh: I feel exactly the same.

PI said...

r:lux: that's good to hear. I go so rarely I was afraid everyone would have seenit already. a special treat I'm going againe tomorrow tosee 'Notes on a Scandal'
Yippee!

R. Sherman said...

Mazoomahas?

I'm going away now and just contemplate that marvelous bit of wordsmithing.

Cheers.

PI said...

Thought you'd appreciate that Randall

Wendz said...

See? I should have read this before jumping in with my comment...pah! Great review - I so miss having access to English films - I was such a film buff before France invaded my life.

PI said...

wendz: Glad you liked it. Saw another good film today but made me realise how mucn more I enjoyed 'The Queen,. The video is our on Monday I hear.

Theblonde said...

I look forward to seeing it with my mother on dvd, lovely detailed review Pat.

PI said...

theblonde: thank you! Lucky you - I'd have loved to have seen it with my mother.

kenju said...

I want to see that movie so badly - and I will eventually. Thanks for the review. It is nice to hear about it from a loyal subject.

PI said...

Judy: 'loyal subject' that gave me pause for thought but i suppose I am. It's a great film and I think you'll enjoy it.

JMH said...

Would you consider doing a podcast, a radio broadcast of your posts over the Internet? I ask because I, like many Americans, am entranced by the sound of English.

Michele...

PI said...

Hi jmh and welcome! I love the idea of entrancing Americans but pods and utubes are all Geek to me and I wouldn't know where to start.

apprentice said...

Great review Pat. I feel for HM, she had a life of duty and care and the Queen Mum was a tartar as well as being extravangant. I think the loss of her immediate family has liberated her in some ways.

I'm still a republican though! Helen Mirren is the tops

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Here from Michele this morning Pat...
It's so interesting to read what you felt about this film, being so much closer to the REAL situation, as you are.
I loved this film and thought Helen Mirren was quite extrordinairy...and loved the use of the real footage with the filmed footage---it gave such a reality and a reminder of the terrible sadness and tragedy of Diana's death. Thanks for your take on it!

PI said...

O Lady of the hills: I am glad you felt the same way about it.

PI said...

anna : interesting that you should feel the same. It's as if a great load has been lifted off her.

FOUR DINNERS said...

BIG fan of Phil meself. He could have been a punk

PI said...

4d: he's certainly got the 'doesn't givr a damn attitude' but I can't see him with a nose ring.