Diana is More Of A Romance Movie Than a Biopic
Oliver Hirschbiegel, known for his Academy Award nominated film Downfall chronicling Adolf Hitler’s final days, takes on the final two years of the Princess of Wales’ life in Diana. The film, borrowing material from the book “Diana: Her Last Love” by TV producer, director, and journalist Kate Snell, focuses heavily on her post-Charles relationship with Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan. Be prepared for more of a romance film than a biopic.
Through dialogue, the film makers manage to just gloss over Diana’s troubled past as a child and her divorce from Prince Charles that leaves her distanced from her two sons, but never flesh out those problems on screen. Rather, they favour exploring the lack of privacy that she inherited with her royal status and its role in the demise of her relationship with Khan. It is revealed that Diana, after divorcing from Prince Charles, was only able to see sons William and Harry every four weeks. Yet in a film that spans the last two years of her life, the only glimpse of familial relationship is a short scene in which she sees them off at a helicopter landing on their return home.
The high points of the film are some intimate moments in her playful relationship with the surgeon, which display the conflicting qualities of the princess that are both the ordinary citizen and out-of-touch royal figure. Unfortunately, these intimate moments also manage to deliver some cringe-worthy lines reminiscent of a television soap opera. On top of that, considering the fact that real-life Hasnat Khan had no involvement in the source material or film, and that the information is based on the insight of Diana’s close friends, one can only believe that some of these intimate moments and private conversations between the two are made-up or based on speculation.
The film seems to have disappointed the Princess Diana admirers, but it also may not satisfy viewers who are looking to learn more about her either. While Diana newbies will get more enjoyment of it than the Diana experts – their viewing experience not being plagued by mentally fact-checking the entire way through – the film assumes that the viewer is already well-educated about the Princess of Wales. After her breakup with Khan, Diana began her high-profile relationship with Dodi Fayed. The film portrays this relationship as a ploy to make Khan jealous, as the film’s previously-seeking-privacy Diana tips off paparazzi as to the whereabouts of Khan’s yacht, so they can blast the pictures of her worldwide as she flaunts herself on his boat. The film completely omits any information as to who Fayed is or how he and Diana know each other, beginning the Fayed chapter of the film with a simple invitation to his yacht that Diana accepts without hesitation.
Thankfully, the film does focus on Princess Diana’s humanitarian work in the effort to ban landmines. In scenes where she sits down with children who lost their limbs to landmine explosions and another in which she lets a blind man touch her face, viewers get to see the side of Diana which made her loved by so many: her captivation in and willingness to immerse herself amongst the common people. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t delve far enough into the psychology of the princess to answer the question of “Why?”
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