Final series successful Crowns the branch is split open – viewers can watch the first batch now, the next one in a month. Four published parts out of ten have a clear common denominator: at the very beginning, through a dog and its owner on a walk in Paris, we approach the tragic accident that ended the life of Princess Diana and her friend Dodi Fayed on August 31, 1997.
For three episodes, we then follow the events that led to this moment. In the fourth we see its consequences, which shook the British royal throne – that is, the critical period that the main creator Crowns Peter Morgan already worked on the screenplay for the award-winning film by Stephen Frears Queen from 2006, which brought Helen Mirren an Oscar for her portrayal of the title role.
In addition to how the series will manage to deal with the sensitive topic of Diana’s death (and, after all, her acquaintance with billionaire playboy Dodi Fyed), the question of how Peter Morgan will deal with such a well-developed material – when it was clear that he cannot do the same. And Morgan really surprised, although you can’t say that in the ideal sense of the word.
There’s Diana’s ghost here
Where in The queen led Queen Elizabeth II. for her speech dedicated to Diana’s death, the razor-sharp drama in which a woman at the peak of her life’s destiny reevaluates everything she has been convinced of until now is enough in Crown actually only one thing: a meeting with the spirit of the deceased princess, who will express it in the queen’s head.
Even before that, Diana appears to her ex-husband, Prince Charles, who flies her body from Paris to London. He does so with a streetwise “tadá”, although Netflix’s “tudum” would definitely be more appropriate. Such a solution manages to effectively treat everything that happens next in a really peculiar way, especially when Dodi also turns into a ghost and advises his ruined ambitious father not to take it personally that British society does not want to accept him as an equal.
Of course, the ghost trick will also make it possible to see the excellent Elizabeth Debicki in the role of Princess Diana for an episode longer, which is exactly what the viewers want, and the creators are happy to fulfill their wishes.
At the same time, however, the idea with a ghost is an expression, if not directly of creative despair, then at least a resignation to more refined procedures and a less condescending way for the audience: the apparition of the deceased “saint” here crowns the uncovered game of certainty, which from the beginning of the final series leads the series into the field of sentimental kitsch.
What we want from the series
At the same time, not only award-winning series like biting Struggle for powerbut also herself Crown in previous series have shown that a series about the lives of elites does not necessarily have to drown in simplistic emotions, but can offer a very refreshing critical perspective.
However, in the current case, Peter Morgan (following the example of the Queen) decided to “serve the people” and not complicate the audience’s parting with the beloved idol. Therefore, before her death (and even after it), Diana reconciles with Charles, as well as with the queen, in an idyllic way. And in her relationship with Dodi, instead of being a victim of another family with ambitions, the princess becomes a mature mentor to an immature suitor.
The contradiction with real memories, which are still relatively alive, especially angered the British critics, who often did not let on new works Crowns thread dry. In the interest of justice, however, the published half of the last series must also be recognized as having some significant positives. In particular, it concerns the performances, not only of the already mentioned Elizabeth Debicki, but basically of the entire ensemble, for example Khalid Abdalla as Dodi Fayed is excellent within the scope of his role, Charles (Dominic West) and Elizabeth II do not lack charisma. (Imelda Staunton).
Paparazzi as a unit of baseness
With a great deal of persuasiveness, these episodes depict the tabloid photographers’ hunt for Diana – the scenes, which are certainly not exaggerating in any fundamental way, send chills down the spine, and the image of intrusive, familiar and insidious paparazzi shows human baseness in an almost crystalline form.
The second episode titled Two photos also sympathetically returns to the inventiveness in the narrative that graced the earlier series. It represents the creation of two competing newspaper images from that tumultuous summer – the tabloid photos of Princess Diana, taken by elite paparazzi Mario Brenna, and the idyllic photos of Prince Charles and his sons, for the production of which the royal family commissioned the (here, of course, fictitious) old-fashioned photographer Duncan Muir.
It is of course too early to evaluate the entire series before its halfway point, perhaps the creators are saving the best for the definitive finale. But it is practically certain that the final series will not be among the most successful overall. Princess Diana herself is not to blame, but the too willing succumbing to her cult certainly is.