"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." Henry IV Part II
When the Royal Family learns of the death of Princess Diana, The Queen (Helen Mirren) must decide how she is going to react to this awful turn of events. With a newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair (Michael Sheen), The Queen and Blair have to learn to trust each other, and attempt to come to an agreement about how to deal with Diana's death. Be it a dignified, private Royal Family matter...or bowing to the demands of Diana's adoring public and give them time to mourn with the Royal Family as well.
"The Queen" rides on the edge of both documentary and drama--staying very true to history, but still showing the emotions everyone was going through when Diana died. With an incredible cast and direction by Stephen Frears, "The Queen" feels like so much more than a documentary about Queen Elizabeth II. Frears brings us into the most intimate moments of the Royal Family's life, and lets us feel the issues that The Queen has to deal with as she realizes how much England and the world has changed since she first took her position. Mirren certainly takes the show with her portrayal of the Queen. With each movement, and even the way she talks, she truly lets us believe that she is indeed The Queen. And Sheen brilliantly brings us a young Tony Blair, as he rises to the top and gains the trust of the people of England and even the acceptance of The Queen.
"The Queen" couldn't be more beautiful with set design and costume design. Throughout the entire movie we are given stunning scenery and wonderful looks into some of the most intimate places for The Queen and Royal Family. Right along with the scenery is the amazing costume design--each character is perfectly dressed, and we easily believe that we are looking at a real portrayal of the people at the Royal Estate.
"The Queen" is definitely not for everyone. It moves along slowly, which I believe was the directors way of telling us that we need to pay more attention. We are seeing things that no one else has ever experienced--intimate moments with the Royal Family, and even those shared between The Queen and Tony Blair. "The Queen" is definitely a work of art, but if you are not a history buff, and don't know much about Tony Blair and the Queen, or only know that Princess Diana died and it was a terrible event, then "The Queen" is probably not for you. However, if you do have an ear for history and politics, and want to share in the heartbreakingly tough decisions The Queen had to make all those years ago, then you will definitely enjoy "The Queen."
BVHE has given us a very nice transfer of "The Queen." The contrast is very nice, with really nice blacks and skin tones that are spot on. There are, however, scenes of grain--they could be considered as attempts to "age" the film so it felt like we were watching something old, but actually ended up feeling unnecessary. Other than the grain that presented itself once and a while, "The Queen" stands out with a very nice transfer. As you continue to watch the beautiful countryside of the Queen's estate, you will see beautiful greens with wonderful detail.
One thing that was really neat about "The Queen" was the actual news footage that they mixed in. They used bits of the old footage before seamlessly transitioning to the movie shots, which made for great storytelling. Sometimes we would see old interviews of Diana or the crowds of people leaving flowers in her memory. The entire thing felt very nicely mixed together and never confused us as to what we were really looking at.
We do get a 5.1 uncompressed track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital track. This track is a little spotty. "The Queen" is a movie that is obviously not filled with explosions and use of a lot of bass, but it is filled with quite a bit of dialogue. The dialogue here was at times very soft and I had to turn up my volume many times in order to hear it. Then, the soundtrack would kick in and make me turn down the volume and start the cycle all over again. The overall dialogue was nice, and mixed fairly well, but unfortunately I didn't get much out of the sound department here.
Commentary By Director Stephen Frears & Writer Peter Morgani: This track is down right terrible. Frears and Morgani have no chemistry together and have nothing exciting to listen to. They frequently cut each other off and I felt like in order for them to tell us something, someone was behind the camera almost pulling their teeth to give us info. Not worth the listen on this one!
Commentary by British Historian & Royal Expert Robert Lacey: Surprisingly this was a very pleasant commentary track, especially for those history buffs out there. Lacey is very upbeat, and you can totally tell he loves his job. He gives us very nice detail about how accurate this film is and points out some of the things that weren't entirely accurate, but could be if The Queen was actually in a situation like created for the film. This is the commentary track to listen to if you like history and want to learn more details about the Royal Family.
The Making of The Queen: This feature is broken into three parts: Playing Real People, The Design, and That Week. We get some nice cast and crew interviews that dive into some more detail about the behind the scenes work since we didn't get much from the first commentary track. We learn how they brought the characters to life and didn't worry as much about looking like characters--rather they focused on being that character. We also learn about the design of The Queen and bringing the sets and costumes to life. And finally we learn some details about that week...that horrible week between Diana's death and funeral. When shooting something so emotional like that we need to be sympathetic to people's feelings and realize that you have to tread softly.
Movie Showcase: We all know what the movie showcase is by now!
"The Queen" is a work of art; it is a wonderful look at the intimate side of The Queen and the Royal Family, and their relationship with Tony Blair. Like I said before, it is a little slow at certain points, and for some that might be a big deterrent. But it really shouldn't stop you from watching a beautiful piece of work. The acting, direction, and costume design are all fantastic. The video is great with just a couple trouble areas, and the audio is just okay. The special features are ehhh...but the movie is wonderful. Watch this one...enjoy the acting, and know that you are seeing something very powerful and moving. I highly recommend "The Queen."