Style that still lets the bride shine...
DIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel
CAST: Naomi Watts, Naveen Andrews, Douglas Hodge, Geraldine James, Cas Anvar
CLASSIFICATION: 10-12 PG L
RUNNING TIME: 113 minutes
As a lifelong fan of Princess Diana, I was fascinated by this film. A woman who’s life was documented from the age of 19 when she became engaged to the future king of England, Diana’s story was made that much more fascinating because it dealt with a part of her life the world knew very little about – the love affair between her and Pakistani heart surgeon Hasnat Khan.
Princess Diana was the most famous and most photographed woman in the world at the time of her death and had been for at least a decade.
The world fell in love with her precisely because she encapsulated that fairy tale romance which is every girl’s fantasy at one stage or another. But it was her beauty, her flaws, her vulnerability, her humanity, her fashion sense and those bashful looks – which could be replaced by a mischievous giggle or a flash of bravado – that had us asking for more.
When her marriage to Prince Charles fell apart, Diana cleverly manipulated the media with the Panorama interview in which she famously said: “There were three of us in the marriage so it was a bit crowded.”
Her love affair on luxurious yachts with Dodi Fayed was also splayed across the papers from New York to Shanghai. And in this film, the producers make it clear that Diana phoned a favourite paparazzi reporter and told him exactly where the glamorous couple were anchored.
That she used the media for personal gain is one of the underlying themes of the film.
Essentially, though, this tale is a love story surrounding a princess. It is a tragic one about two people in love who can never be together. The love affair took place two years before she died. The break-up between the two led to her rebound in the arms of playboy billionaire Fayed.
The role of Hasnat, a man who refused to lose his independence or his life for his love, is comfortably played by Naveen Andrews.
Naomi Watts had the much more challenging role of playing Diana. And while the film suspends reality at times for art, Watts has stuck to Diana’s character, real and imagined, as much as possible.
She has done it well despite a few slips. Diana was a ballerina and had a far more graceful walk than Watts does. Watts also looks a lot older than Diana was in the two years the film is based on.
But it is in her eyes that Watts captures the princess and her emotions, and in the lilting, vulnerable way she speaks.
The film focuses almost exclusively on the relationship between the doctor and Diana, with very little mention of the royal family.
It also includes those famous landmine scenes in Angola. Look out for some famous South African faces through the film – including Cleone Cassidy. Remember her?
This film is recommended for royalists and those who are Diana fans. There was little character development in Diana’s role probably because we all believe we know her so well. This may be a tad difficult for the Y generation to relate to, but then again, they live on an entertainment diet of Twitter and PlayStation.
The film was entertaining and enjoyable but as I left I couldn’t help wondering if, had it been a fictional story, it would have captured me as much. I doubt it.
Then again, no one could ever have made up the unforgettable story of Diana, Princess of Wales.
If you liked Hemmingway & Gelhorn or Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky you will like this.