Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s)
By Alistair Lawrence,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Disjointed royal docu has outdated views, some language.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Serving your country, being professional, being impartial, and doing what is expected of you. Trying your best in difficult and unexpected circumstances. Sacrificing privacy in exchange for a privileged life.
Positive Role Models
The Queen is shown as being polite and professional when carrying out her obligations to her country as its head of state. There is also some discussion of how the Queen's official duties hinder the public from knowing her in anything other than a professional capacity.
Brief discussion of Britain's colonial past and interviews with people from those countries. Some ethnic diversity shown on official visits, but the main subjects of the documentary are the British royal family. The archive footage shows some outdated views about race, integration, and multiracial people. Recent news headlines are shown questioning whether members of the royal family hold racist views.
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Violence & Scariness
Archive footage of war and civil unrest, which includes arson, punches, kicks, slaps, and guns being pointed at people. Trauma as the result of attacks, conflict, and grief. Rifles held in what appears to be shooting practice. Other rifles and cannons fired as part of official ceremonies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild, light-hearted reference to finding the Queen sexually attractive.
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Language used includes one use of "f--k," "s--t," "bloody," "moron," and "God" as an exclamation. The offensive and outdated term "colored" is used when referring to people of color.
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Products & Purchases
The Queen and her family are shown wearing priceless ceremonial jewelry, such as the Queen's crown, tiaras, and necklaces. They also ride in carriages as part of state ceremonies and are shown living a highly privileged life, albeit as a result of royal status and official duties.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Social drinking in moderation as part of functions and celebrations.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s) is a documentary about the life of Queen Elizabeth II, on the eve of her Diamond Jubilee. The film takes a found-footage approach that shows the Queen to be polite, articulate, and thoughtful, as well as dedicated to her work. Various setbacks in her professional and personal life are also mentioned, which she handles with stoicism. There is some diversity, with international duties the Queen undertakes shown in various countries that celebrate different traditional dress and customs. The British royal family itself is less diverse, though, and their considerable wealth and fortune is there for all to see. Violence features in the archive footage, including one threat on the Queen's life. Elsewhere we see riots caused by civil unrest, which includes violent scuffles and the police response. Some weaponry is shown and used as part of the Queen's duties and naval ceremonies. There is occasional swearing from commentators, comedians, and the general public, including one use of "f--k." The offensive term "colored" is also used when referring to people of color.
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Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s)
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What's the Story?
ELIZABETH: A PORTRAIT IN PART(S) is a documentary consisting of archive footage covering the British monarch's 70-year reign.
Is It Any Good?
An iconic subject can't elevate this documentary, which compiles a mishmash of royal and news footage from across the 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II in a way that gets us no closer to our subject. Granted, this is partly because the Queen must keep a professional distance from the public, but there's still little in Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s) that even the most ardent royalist could seriously defend as disarming or insightful. The documentary's most interesting moments come when the Queen is shown reflecting on the nature of her remarkable life and royal duties. In typically understated fashion, she comes across as thoughtful, articulate, and not without a sense of humor. In contrast to her disgraced son, Prince Andrew, who features briefly, this is a feat of remarkable self-awareness and self-control.
Indeed the high-profile chapters in her life arguably don't revolve around her at all. That said, the film's decision to ignore the recent death of her husband, Prince Philip, is an odd one. While the sudden passing of her former daughter-in-law, Lady Diana, is awkwardly mentioned in another blink and you'll miss it moment. Likewise, a glimpse of some tabloid headlines is all we get of her grandson Prince Harry's rancorous split from the grand British institution of which she is the most senior figure. If nothing else, this shows the quiet diplomacy that the Queen practices to be more difficult than it appears, but at the same time it's far from compelling viewing.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how the Queen came across in Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s). What character strengths did she display? Would you describe her as a role model? Why, or why not?
How much did you know about Britain's longest-serving monarch? Did you learn anything new from the documentary?
Talk about some of the language used in the documentary, particularly some of the outdated and offensive terms used. Did the filmmakers do enough in calling it out?
Would you describe the documentary as being balanced? Is that always important? Why, or why not?
Why do some countries have royal families while others do not? What are the pros and cons of having a monarchy?
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2022
- Cast: Queen Elizabeth II
- Director: Roger Michell
- Studio: Showtime Networks
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: History
- Character Strengths: Humility, Perseverance, Self-control
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: May 8, 2023
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