Sundance 2022 ‘The Princess’ Is Nothing New

A still from 'The Princess' directed by Ed Perkins, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Kent Gavin.
A still from 'The Princess' directed by Ed Perkins, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Kent Gavin.
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SYNOPSIS: Decades after her untimely death, Princess Diana continues to evoke mystery, glamour, and the quintessential modern fairy tale gone wrong. As a symbol of both the widening fissures weakening the British monarchy and the destructive machinery of the press, the Princess of Wales navigated an unparalleled rise to fame and the corrosive challenges that came alongside it. Crafted entirely from immersive archival footage and free from the distraction of retrospective voices, this hypnotic and audaciously revealing documentary takes a distinctive formal approach, allowing the story of the People’s Princess to unfold before us like never before. [Source: Sundance Institute]

Comprised of archival footage, ‘The Princess’ sets out to present Diana’s story in a fresh and imaginative way, depicting not only one of the most alluring public figures of the 20th century but also the sociopolitical upheaval afflicting the United Kingdom at the time. Unfortunately, the film is not fresh. There is nothing new that hasn’t already been told in the numerous documentaries in the almost twenty-five years since the death of Princess Diana, in August 1997.

The footage is a somewhat chronological story of how Lady Diana met Prince Charles. It walks us through the details of Lady Diana as a better choice as the future Queen over Camilla Parker-Bowles. Archival footage reminds the audience of the sheer volume of people who watched, either in person or on tv, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in July 1981. The film continues through the years of Princess Diana life and her immense popularity; the crowds and innumerable photographers everywhere she went. The film ends with the death of Princess Diana in Paris, France in August 1997 after being chased by paparazzi.

Academy Award–nominated documentary director, Ed Perkins (Garnet’s Gold (BBC Storyville and theatrical release), Black Sheep (The Guardian), and Tell Me Who I Am (Netflix)) sought to convey a message of how the public’s fascination with royals and celebrities contributed to Princess Diana’s untimely death. This question is not a novel one. The film, while compelling, simply continues an ongoing conversation that has been told time and time again. Yes, Diana was one of the most impactful people of our time. Yes, Diana changed the course of the British royal family. Her popularity and compassion was endearing and something that had not been previously exhibited by royals. The public could not get enough of her; thus, paparazzi photos were in demand (to say the least). This film conveys that. The conversation continues…and, unfortunately, so will tired films depicting the late Princess Diana.

About Jillian Dale 68 Articles
Film festival coverage and digital content ninja.

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