In the absence of my boyfriend and thus a live-in excuse to procrastinate, I took fate and a glass of wine in my own hands and decided to watch a movie last night. We don’t have a TV and the boyfriend downloads any movies we watch, so to secure and watch a film is a feat for me.
Watching The Queen with Helen Mirren made me feel a little as if I were peering with binoculars into the palace windows. The film used the royal handling of Diana’s death as its plot; I felt like a I was reading an imaginative, physchoanalytic tabloid. (Is the news footage of Diana’s mourers real? I think I remember hearing it was.) It was a well-done film, but it shares much the same problems as the novella The Uncommon Reader, also based on Queen Elizabeth. It’s a weird mix of real and immagined. The Queen is even more factious than the novella, if only because the novella’s plot was imagined and the film’s was real. I prefer my fiction more fictional, and my biographies factual. It’s handled as if a conflation of art and life would take on a greater degree of realism, but it comes across as celebrity speculation.
I quite like it when Lord Byron or Oscar Wilde conflates art and life to dramatize themselves; it just feels different here. Is it a function of the Queen Elizabeth’s reticence that people like to imagine her private inner life or does her position as Queen transform her into a public figurehead at the service of the arts?