A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie probably won't show up on kids' radar. It's really for the adult royal watcher. But if you decide to watch with your kids, know that the movie includes brief allusions to Princess Diana's car crash, preceded by the assembled press throng. There's a lot of discussion of the funeral, as well as archival TV imagery of the public mourning sites (flowers and artifacts left at estate and palace gates). Diana's sons and some on-the-street interviewees appear in tears. The movie features hunting scenes in which the royals "stalk" stags and shoot at them; one dead stag (killed off screen) appears hanging headless and draining blood, with its severed head on a table waiting for treatment. One use of "f--k" near beginning of film.
What's the story?
THE QUEEN is fictionalized account of the months following Princess Diana's fatal 1997 car crash. Directed by Stephen Frears and scripted by Last King of Scotland writer Peter Morgan, the movie specifically explores the conflict between Queen Elizabeth II's (Helen Mirren) expectations of "her people" and their expectations of her. While the family -- especially Prince Philip (James Cromwell) and the Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) -- stubbornly dismisses the public outpouring of grief (the queen insists her subjects will "come to heir senses"), Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) sees the mourning and increasing outrage as an expression of collective frustration with the royals being "out of touch."
Is it any good?
For its first hour or so, The Queen is carried along by a witty irreverence, equally targeting the queen and Blair as both manage their self-image. But then, instead of trusting Mirren to convey the queen's emotional transition -- which she does, brilliantly -- the film comes up with a heavy-handed metaphor for the loss of tradition. During one countryside excursion, the queen spots a magnificent stag and tries to save it from being shot, appreciating its beauty, vulnerability, wildness, and purity.
If this isn't enough, the film later delivers the Queen's "lesson" in an oddly passionate speech by Blair to his staff, which instructs them (and viewers, as if they haven't been watching the queen pondering her dilemma for the past 90 minutes) on the queen's efforts to make sense of her new age. In this moment, the film shows a lack of faith in its own audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the tensions between traditional royal propriety and "modern" media representations. How does the film argue that this crisis -- the frenzy over Diana's death -- caused a shift in that relationship, since the royal family had to accommodate public sentiment rather than have subjects to follow their lead? How is the conflict between old and new explored in the relationship between the queen and Tony Blair (in this version of events, he embodies "modernization")? How accurate do you think this version of events really is?
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