DVD of the Week – Review of The Queen (2006)

by RISHI AGRAWAL

The Queen 042407

Whenever I recommend The Queen to people and they seem skeptical, then I ask them if they know what the film is about. Usually, I get a sheepish reply, “Uh, Queen Elizabeth?” I respond, “Which one?” Then, they admit that they do not know. In fact, most people associate any image of the British monarchy with BBC America or PBS, and that translates to “boring.” I will admit that The Queen would feel right at home on PBS, but I will contend that the film was not boring.

Rather than a stuffy portrayal of an absolute monarch who has been dead for centuries, Helen Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth II, who is still very much alive. The other major player is Tony Blair, played brilliantly by Michael Sheen. Rather than showing the English monarchy at its peak, this film examines the monarchy in decline. The paradox of Queen Elizabeth II is that she has no real power, but her influence is still felt. As I am not from England, I cannot hope to understand this, but ever since Parliament wielded more power than the crown, the British have had to live under this system.

What this film is about is the power struggle between Queen Elizabeth II and Tony Blair in the wake of Princess Diana’s death. It is about the role of the monarchy in today’s society, where it might seem like an anachronism. It is about the influence of the media on politics and the struggles between staying with tradition and adapting to a modern way of life. What makes this a great film is the plethora of themes and ideas bursting out of it. This is an interesting and subtle film which I consider a must-see.

The DVD is available in regular and Blu-Ray versions. It features a “making of” featurette and two commentary tracks: one by director Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan and the other by British historian and royal expert Robert Lacey.

Other new releases this week: Code Name: The Cleaner, Deja Vu, Night at the Museum, Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss, Thr3e

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