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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure British Wit
I didn't know what to expect from this film at all. But since the film had a strong showing at the Oscars... at least Helen Mirren did, I thought I'd give it a go. Was expecting serious drama but it was actually a very witty take on the royal family during a rather tragic event. It showed a whole different side to the royals and rather realistically too so much so that it...
Published on 5 July 2007 by smeng

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice acting, quite good film
Helen Mirren's acting is indeed good, though she comes across as far more charismatic than the real Elisabeth.

I was imagining it would give more of an insight into the whole life of the Queen and was a little disappointed. Nevertheless, by concentrating on one episode (the aftermath of Diana's death) the film is able to go quite deeply into her feelings (in an...
Published on 29 Mar 2007 by Rabscuttlerun


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure British Wit, 5 July 2007
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I didn't know what to expect from this film at all. But since the film had a strong showing at the Oscars... at least Helen Mirren did, I thought I'd give it a go. Was expecting serious drama but it was actually a very witty take on the royal family during a rather tragic event. It showed a whole different side to the royals and rather realistically too so much so that it could be true. Brilliant lines from the Queen Mother by the way, watch out for those scenes.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and with a wonderful central performance, 20 Feb 2007
By 
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
This is a very interesting film, portraying as it does the mismatch between the Royal Family's immediate response to the death of Princess Diana and what a large section of the British public wanted of them. In the week after the accident, public hysteria ran high and, in failing to respond to that, the Family suffered a severe public relations knock. No-one knows more about public relations than spin-crazy Tony Blair and his media manipulator-in-chief, Alistair Campbell, and in the film they are shown to have a far surer grasp of what would 'work' with the public than does the Queen, whose wishes are essentially family-based, centring on an old-fashioned emphasis on privacy and the protection of her bereaved grandsons. But she comes across as a far more sympathetic character than Blair and Campbell. This is partly because of an excellent screenplay and partly because of Helen Mirren's outstanding and uncannily 'right' performance ; partly also because, at this distance, we can see that there is something awful about the disproportionate wildness of the public grief - tons and tons of flowers, hysterical weeping in the streets and so on - which the Queen, a woman from another age whose whole training is based on reserve and control, would find alien and unsettling, particularly as the relationship with Diana had become very strained, for whatever reasons. All of this comes across entirely convincingly in the film. In addition, it tells a very good story and is, in places, unexpectedly funny. So, an unusual film, a one-off, very well done
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and highly entertaining., 16 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. Andrew Moore "lord derfel cadarn" (Worcestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Hype as ever follows any film expected and/or actually winning Oscars, Baftas and other awards. Often the critically acclaimed are not as popular with the public, but this film truly deserves all the praise and awards it received.

We all know the story; Dianna dies in a car crash and the public grief the entire country showed while the royals stayed largely out of the way. Are the events shown in the film accurate? I don't know but they certainly could be. Well acted by everyone even down to an uncany impression of Tony Blair, cheesy grin and all, this is a powerful film for most ages. My wife and I took our two children to see this, they were 5 and 8 years and both loved it which I did not expect. My daughter wanted to know more and this started a lot of reading and asking/answering of questions. We've now watched this some three or four times and every time found something new. Its full of emotion as you would expect but it takes you from tears of sadness to tears of joy. A gammut of emotions and truly rewarding.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLOSE CALL, 11 Jun 2007
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
There are several themes to this excellent and most original and interesting film; but what it is about more than anything else is how political regimes and whole dynasties can be undone on account of a single error of judgment. It is only near the end that Her Majesty warns her prime minister that this will happen to him, and happen suddenly and without warning. It had nearly happened to her, he had been the saving of her on this occasion, and her dire prediction for him probably holds an uneasy message for herself too.

At the start the Queen is full of regal self-assurance, neatly putting her boyish and slightly nervous novice of a prime minister in his place by telling him he is sitting where Churchill once sat. In next to no time the positions are reversed, as Blair's acute political antennae tell him that HM is in imminent danger of losing her subjects' allegiance, something that would have been unimaginable only days previously, through trusting her own judgment and listening to the advice of her husband and her mother in respect of how to react to the death of Princess Diana. Throughout the crisis Blair is adroit and sure-footed, the monarch is made to realise bitterly from the newspapers how he has it right and she has been hopelessly at sea, but unlike her family counsellors she has the wit to swallow her pride and retrieve the situation before it slides beyond retrieval. This one incident could have undone a lifetime of unswerving dedication, universally acknowledged, to her country, and put the skids under the House of Windsor itself. Her warning to Blair is really made from a new sense of respect and a shocked realisation of how quickly and brutally the tables can turn. And how right she has been. This film does not make the matter explicit, but any viewer can sense the irony of Blair's own political fate. For years he seemed unable to put a foot wrong as far as the public were concerned, his luck was near-incredible (and his political nous was enormously greater than Churchill's); and then he blew it all with one foolish and ill-considered assertion in the Commons about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Just one mistake, when one is not sensing danger, is enough.

The depiction of the main players is brilliant, and I found it fascinating to guess just how accurate it may be. Leaks, rumours, gossip and memoirs certainly descend on the public these days like leaves in Vallombrosa, giving us some shaky basis for forming a judgment. In the nature of the case a prime minister has to make himself (or herself) familiar to a rightly suspicious electorate, but a monarch should always retain some mystique, and the other dramatis personae, even the heir to the throne, are only intermittently in the limelight. Inevitably and rightly the film's characterisation is creative, but it is coherent and convincing provided one does not mistake it for portraiture from life. The acting has been widely praised and I concur entirely. The atmosphere is beautifully touched in too, from the family life of the Blairs (and the Windsors) to the blokeish informality of the New Labour apparatchiks in Downing Street and above all the hushed flunkeyish reverence accorded to the Queen, cocooning her in the chrysalis that nearly devoured her.

I hope there is no possibility of a sequel, as a masterpiece like this should be left unique. Within days now Her Britannic Majesty will be welcoming a new prime minister whom she probably suspects of being a closet republican, as I suspect he is too. I shall be watching out all the same for one thing that this film says clearly through the lips of Cherie Blair, something to the effect that all Labour prime ministers finish up devoted to the Queen. Maybe it will be the same story with Brown, but I wonder how matters will stand once the monarch is no longer Elizabeth II. When that becomes the case the story of Princess Diana is likely to open a new chapter.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sheer Britishness of it all..., 30 Jan 2007
By 
David Hackston (Helsinki) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
Having lived outside the UK for most of the time that has passed since Princess Diana's death, it's interesting to revisit that moment in history from a foreign context, almost as an outsider. Sitting in the cinema this evening, I was struck by the notion that perhaps only Brits can truly appreciate the significance of the British monarchy, and thereby also fully understand what it is that makes this film such a towering piece of cinema.

As another reviewer has pointed out, Elizabeth II is omnipresent, permeating every facet of British society, and it is in its very attention to detail that "The Queen" triumphs. At first I was taken aback by the striking similarity between the actors and their real-life counterparts: Helen Mirren (who deserves the Oscar for this, perhaps her greatest performance) is frighteningly like the Queen in every respect, right down to pronouncing "Diana" with the stress on the first syllable - something only the Queen does. Michael Sheen's Blair was spot on too: that nervous chuckle, the grin, the walk. James Cromwell is uncannily like the Duke of Edinburgh...

I'd forgotten that these events took place almost immediately after New Labour's accession to power, and thinking of things in these terms sheds new light on the significance of the public reaction. The Tories had finally been kicked out of Westminster, there was a great sense of expectation, of change, and the questioning of the monarchy's relevance seems to go hand in hand with that new-found optimism. The film reminds us that Blair at least set out to be a "moderniser", and the Queen even asks whether he is "planning to modernise us".

Whether or not what happened during that week can be called "modernisation", it certainly shook the very foundations of the institution of the monarchy in Britain. I found it interesting how often people in the audience here laughed at what they saw. Yes, some of it is comical, but it's important to remember that the Royals really are like this; one of the many strengths of the film is that it never descends into parody and caricature. All in all I found watching "The Queen" a truly visceral experience - the likeness of the actors, the real archive footage, the sentiments of the time, the hysteria - and wept through much of it. I'm not exactly sure why. Perhaps it's something to do with our shared humanity, the unifying power of grief, and the sheer Britishness of it all.
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80 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monarchy stripped, 3 Jan 2007
By 
I. Curry "IDC" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
It is unlikely that any single person is as omnipresent through one's lifetime as an iconoic and long lived monarch. In Britain no one under the age of 55 has known any other head of state, and even in our disrespectful, celebrity driven culture she still enjoys a personal popularity and visual presence that is almost unique.

Her face smiles benevolently from stamps, stares imperiously from bank notes and is stamped on every coin. Letter boxes, pillars and buildings are decorated with her E II R cipher, and the initials `HM' or `royal' precede almost every national institution. From the RAF to HM Government, from the Queen's Speech to those resting at her majesty's pleasure, Elizabeth is everywhere.

And so the spectacle of a film that attempts to accurately and without sensation reveal the inner workings of her family life and mind is undoubtedly one of the cinematic events to be relished in Britain. And with Helen Mirren taking the lead and making the role so sublimely successful, this film is a definite winner.

It could have been the time, just after lunch in a mid-week showing. It could have been the location, genteel Clapham. But it was more likely to be the film, and its royal subject matter. The Queen is one of the first films I have seen where the pensionable audience was dominant and where octogenarians were a visible minority. And, it seem obvious to say, they were all women. As the strains of `Don't Cry for me, Argentina, blasted through the auditorium, the discrete chatter of the royal watching crowd could be heard.

The pre-movie hype was, like the crowd, discrete. The articles focused on Helen Mirren, and dealt with how the evident lese-majeste would be received in Buckingham Palace. The film itself was received with something of a mystery. I knew it focused on the weeks surrounding the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, but beyond that I was in the dark.

But the film did not disappoint. The spectacle of a famously private monarch being brought to life in telling detail was intriguing. The role was played with a dry, waspish sense of humour throughout. The Queen was demonstrated as being rational, honour and duty bound and sensible. Her only failing seems to have been to fail to read the mood of a strangely hysterical public, and by the end this seems to be as much a reason for praise as anything. When an annoyingly `in-touch' Tony Blair tells Her Maj that an appearance might help the people with their grief, the Queen almost splutters back in disbelief "their grief?"

It is this divorce from the people at this point that is the central theme of the film. It is the first time she is hated, criticised and subject to the harsh blast of sustained tabloid fury. And Helen Mirren plays the resulting hurt and confused monarch with aplomb. It is one of her finest dramatic moments.

But it is the joy of watching the private moments that could be so easily believed to be real that makes the film. The Queen is a stickler for protocol. Tony Blair is introduced by the Queen's private secretary as the Prime Minister, and the Queen replies quickly "Prime Minister to be, Robin, to be. I haven't asked him yet". Cherie is well played as the frumpy, republican rebel with a devilish wit that is so easy to believe. Blair is similarly convincing as both the poster child of modernity and then the Queen's defender within government. Alistair Campbell is creepily obsessed with the public image and the spin machine that will later consume him.

Most enjoyable is the Duke of Edinburgh, who in real life can always be relied on to provide a comedy aside. He spends most of the film either away hunting, or spluttering in disbelieving indignation at the latest affront from the government or media. His best line comes in relaying the latest invitation list to the funeral, "a chorus line of soap stars and homosexuals!" And propping up the royal comedy double act is the Queen Mother, as similarly wry as her daughter but yet charmingly dotty with age.

The setting is stunning, with most of the action taking place in the Queen's estate in Balmoral. The hunt scenes present an interesting allegory, with Diana, the namesake of the goddess of the hunt, hunted down to eventual death by the press, and her boys taken on a real hunt to get their minds off it. A giant stag becomes something of a metaphor for the dead princess, beautiful and yet ultimately tragic. In the end, just like the princess, it is in the wrong place at the wrong time and meets a bloody end.

Ultimately this film is far from the caustic attack on the royals I was expecting. The characters are played with attention and sympathy. I can't see that any would have much to complain about in their portrayal. In fact the biggest villains are seen to be the British people, who collectively lose their minds in a display of mass grief that is barely comprehensible. That they forced their stoic, dutiful Queen to grieve in public is one of the most reprehensible episodes in what is ultimately a tragic tale of a family playing out its differences in public and grieving in the only way they know how - in private.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Live The Queen, 29 May 2007
This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I hadn't expected to enjoy this film so was pleasantly surprised when I found myself engrossed. Mirren's performance as The Queen is outstanding, to say the least, although the performances of those who played the parts of Tony Blair and Prince Phillip shouldn't be overlooked either as both gave their own spectacular performances.

I'll admit that I'm a Royalist who was never keen on Diana but I think the story was told in an unbiased way while looking at the side we never really learned about. It's easy to jump to conclusions when we don't have the facts but I never once felt this film was playing on public expectation or media frenzy.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Royal Knockout, 23 Sep 2007
This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I have never been a particular fan of the Royals, nor indeed of the monarchy itself. I also felt the mass hysteria that overloaded and in many ways out shone Princess Diana's death was of the most hypocritical kind in regards to a guilty media, and outrageously superfluous on behalf of a needy public. Yes, that week was truly a memorable one if you lived in Britain and owned a television set because you couldn't fail to be engulfed in the bleeding heart hysteria that followed on from Diana's untimely demise.

"The Queen," sifts through that week of high drama to tell an elegant and quintessentially British story about our values and our expectations of the family people love to hate. Helen Mirren looks every inch The Queen of England and quite exceptionally captures a portrayal of the woman by investing her with a heartfelt dignity, conviction and humanity, that the real Queen should be nothing less than flattered by. Mirren secured herself that Oscar the moment production wrapped; she is truly sensational, carrying us through the whole movie with a grace we rarely see on the big screen these days. Michael Sheen is also to be praised for his uncanny impression of Tony Blair, although he scratches deeper than just surface imitation and digs deep to unearth the once idealistic, and seemingly honourable Prime Minister in the early days of his premiership. Support also comes courtesy of a terrific James Cromwell who adds that light touch of comic relief in the role of Prince Philip, while Mark Bazeley as Alistair Campbell reminds audiences how instrumentally devious a spin doctor can be. Every performance is spot on and helps do justice to the brilliantly written script by Peter Morgan who somehow has drawn to light the different sides involved in that week of tragedy and media spin without being too intrusive in terms of the grief of Princes William and Harry, while Stephen Frears never turns the stock footage of Diana into something overly ghoulish or unseemly.

Ultimately though, this story is not really about Diana at all, her death merely serving as the catalyst for a deep and painful self-reflection for The Queen on her monarchy and personal aversion to Diana and the circus slowly gathering outside Buckingham palace. Further to that, the film is most sincerely, you could say almost whimsically, about the relationship between The Queen and Tony Blair, their differing views on modern Britain and the general public who populate it. I found myself seeing The Queen and Mr. Blair in quite new lights, putting more faith and respect in the decisions they made in that fateful week, and believing that solidarity, compromise and respect played a key role in laying Diana's memory to rest. It is also very amusing at times too, and when not tickling the ribs with a sardonic sideswipe by Prince Philip or a wry put down by The Queen Mother about Blair's "Cheshire cat grin" Morgan's script and Frears' controlled, beautifully unshowy direction combine to create the most tender and curious of scenes where The Queen encounters a lone stag in the wilds of her estate whilst at her weakest moment, and draws a strength from that rare meeting of beauty up-close. Another gem of a scene is where she is greeted by a little girl who is there not to simply pay her respects to the Princess of Wales, but to the Queen of England herself, with a bouquet of flowers. Very sweet, and very touching.

This truly is a strong piece of work, quite possibly one of the best films of its year, certainly as fine a British production that I have seen in some time. The characters are well drawn and strongly performed, the writing insightful and totally believable, while the warmth of the material makes me think I might start appreciating our Royal family just that little bit more. Certainly if The Queen's emotional wealth of character and strong, traditional values can survive and rise above cynical opportunism and media mined mass hysteria then I'm sure she can survive anything. But above all else "The Queen," goes to show that no matter how unjustly wealthy, obnoxiously powerful or goofily out of touch the Royals may be, as a family unit they are just as complex, dysfunctional and quirky as any other family in Britain. This truly is a royal treat, please do believe the hype and don't let Her Majesty pass you by.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superlative drama with a host of real Stars....., 27 Dec 2007
By 
J. R. Turner "Jenny" (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
I have rated this film with 4 stars; not because it isn't an excellent example of a great British film, but because it made uncomfortable viewing in parts, dealing as it does with the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

I agree with the comments made about Helen Mirren in the other reviews of this film. To add to them, I think she is certainly a national treasure and very versatile an actress. The actors playing Prince Phillip and Prince Charles are exactly as I would imagine their real counterparts to be. Prince Phillip demonstrates quite a compassionate side and great loyalty to the Queen, and it would be nice to think that this is how he conducts himself in reality. Sylvia Sims plays the Queen Mother and very ably too. The Queen Mother's role in the film appears to be to lend gravitas to the very real burden that our Queen, as the reigning Monarch, must experience on a day to day basis.

The behaviour of 'Tony Blair and Cherie' made me laugh out loud. I wonder how true to form it actually was. In particular, the actor playing Tony Blair was extremely capable and several times during the film I forgot that he wasn't the Prime Minister.

The most uncomfortable part of the film for me was the public hysteria emanating immediately after the death of the princess. I thought the film handled this aspect very sensitively but oh how I wish this could have been changed to NOT reflect actual events before, during and after the funeral. I wish that the Queen had remained steadfast in her original position to keep the funeral a private matter, particularly for her grandsons who were very young.

Alas, the public appetite for gratuitous involvement at that time resulted in an unprecedented and very public demonstration of 'grief' and this has obviously been incorporated as a primary focus of the film.

In summary, I think this is an excellent film but its tragic event - and the hystrionics that followed - made me truly ashamed to be British.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning and complex portrayal of Elizabeth II by the incomparable Helen Mirren, 31 May 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Queen [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
What an incredible comedy of manners and position this is. Yet it manages a conclusion which is touching.

Diana dies. The British public (and many elsewhere) go into a genuine spasm of grief. The Queen (Helen Mirren) and the royals completely misread the situation and are determined to keep things private with no undignified displays of emotion. They are such a conventional, mundane family. Plus, of course, they detested Diana. Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), newly in as Prime Minister, reads the situation correctly but has to find a way to bring the Queen to understand the seriousness of how the public is beginning to react to her remoteness. And it's all inside stuff.

The Queen is portrayed as absolutely clueless at first, a product of her upbringing, a captive of what she feels "duty" is. Emotionally, she is so closed in...so "English"...that one can realize what a repressed childhood Charles must have had with a bully for a father and a mother unable to express love easily. Philip is not just a bully, he is full of blustering royal certitude. Charles is well-intentioned, more intuitive than you'd think and weak. Blair is irritatingly ingratiating but right. Cherie Blair, his wife, is an anti-monarchist with sharp teeth, an unpleasant piece of work.

It's a lot of fun.

Stephen Frears has made one of his best films, and that's saying a lot for the director of such off-beat and excellent movies as My Favorite Laundrette, Prick Up Your Ears, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, The Grifters, High Fidelity and Dirty Pretty Things.

What a time Helen Mirren has been having. She does a wonderful job as Elizabeth II. It's no superficial performance. We're amazed at Elizabeth's inability to grasp the change in how the people want her to behave, then her eventually conceding the point to Blair, and then her ability to carry off what is required. Compare Mirren's job as Elizabeth II with her performance as Elizabeth I in 2005. Then compare her performance as Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect 7. Mirren is blowing the competition away.
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The Queen [DVD] [2006]
The Queen [DVD] [2006] by Stephen Frears (DVD - 2007)
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