HBO's Stream It Or Skip It: Diana's Life As Told By 20 Years Of News Footage

HBO's Stream It Or Skip It: Diana's Life As Told By 20 Years Of News Footage ...

The Princess, an HBO documentary, is a complete reconstruction of Princess Diana's life, told entirely by newsreels and reports that have been pieced together into a narrative. There are no voiceovers except for those who are part of nightly news casts and the like, no graphic indicating when we are in a given moment, and the footage it allowed to speak entirely for itself. Diana's life was so exhaustively covered by the press that there is perhaps no other person in history who could be pieced together such simply


Amateur video footage of Paris at night, shot by a group of young tourists, who pass the Louvre and then the Ritz, where they notice a slew of onlookers and camera crews. They say, they are very important. This is where Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed met and would flee the hotel in a speeding automobile that would kill them both shortly after this footage was shot.

The Princess, directed by Ed Perkins, will be released in 2020, as part of the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana's ascension. I wouldn't be surprised if Perkins and his team had to cut through thousands of hours of newsreels to produce the perfect sound bites and visuals to tell Diana's ascension in the seamless way that it does.

The press, in particular, is a hating enemy of you even when you love you, and this is shown in the film, which is clear to those who watch her, whether or not she is a virginal or a disgraced monarch. These are all reasons why the filmmakers are able to portray Diana in a different light without any additional footage.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Every time I write about a show or movie that has to do with the modern British monarchy, I come back to the fact that The Crown is excellent companion viewing, as all the real-life events that appear in them and are then depicted on that show are meticulously researched and so well acted. (The Princess features many old interviews with a younger Prince Charles, and I have to say, he does an incredible impression of Diana).

The Princess is a film about a group of young tourists posing for pictures with a celebrity in Paris, but its a different story altogether: in some instances, the clips undersell how brutal certain events in Diana's life were. (The Hulu documentary Charles and Diana: 1983 takes a deeper dive at some of the most shocking moments in their relationship.)

What we learn from this film is how utterly negligent it must have been to not only live your life in the hands of millions (billions?) of strangers every day, but to not be able to walk down a street or drive a car without fearing for your life. Perhaps as he compiled these videos, director Ed Perkins perused for an additional moment on Prince Harry during his funeral in an effort to understand his motivation, and if it was worthwhile.

Except for a brief excerpt from one of Princess Charles' secret phone conversations with Camilla Parker-Bowles, in which Charles says he wants to live inside Camillas trousers I cant believe I am typing this oh wait and then he joked that he might be her Tampax ew help help mom and dad are making gross dirty remarks and its SO BAD.

The Princess does not attempt to provide more information or context than the footage allows. Diana's funeral is completed by the thousands if not millions of mourners as she passes through London and then the English country in whatever manner they wish. This final scene allows viewers to read into her life in whatever manner they desire.

Sleeper Star: Im loathe to criticize the paparazzi for being the star of the film, but watching these reporters and photographers harass a woman, violating her privacy and safety over and over again was a valuable lesson in how to be a terrible human.

Most Pilot-y Line: As footage of Diana visiting the Taj Mahal is shown, an unknown commentator explains the monarchy's policies against Diana: "When you place a modern person in an ancient institution, they will be destroyed." But once an institution begins destroying people, it's time to recognize that it's wrong with the institution that's destroying them.

Our Call: STREAM IT! There is a finite amount of footage left in this film, including photos from the royal wedding, as well as other lesser-known man-on-the-street interviews with regular people discussing their views on the royal family.

Liz Kocan is a pop culture writer living in Massachusetts. Her greatest fame comes from the time she won on the game show Chain Reaction.

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