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The Crown Series S6 Part 1 Review: A poignant but dull retelling of Diana’s last days- Cinema express

The Crown Series S6 Part 1 Review: A poignant but dull retelling of Diana’s last days

While this is definitely a promising premise, the episodes crumble due to the lack of empathy

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Published: 29th November 2023

Mark Twain once said, "The very ink with which history is written is merely fluid prejudice" and going by that, historical inaccuracies become mere missteps in a holistic view of things. But what sometimes stands the test of time is the personal memory of how someone lived and was known for, even if it is not documented on a streaming giant.  One such personality is the Princess of Wales and people’s royalty Diana, whose life was a public spectacle. Hers is a grim story that history loves to revisit often. One such revisit and reimagination is the first part of The Crown series’ sixth season, which elaborates on the life of Diana after her divorce. While this is definitely a promising premise, the episodes crumble due to the lack of empathy. 

The series wastes no time getting to the grimmest moment of the narrative. We know it is Paris by a glimpse of the Seine River, the monumental lights, and the sound of what may be a highway crashing confirming what would have happened. While this may have been executed with the utmost sensitivity and we never get to see the details (thankfully), however, the chain of events leading up to this does not follow up with this trend. Rather, The Crown makes dangerous gaps to show the ultimate splitting of the royal couple that is amply sprinkled with looming spaces. The Crown S6 beginning establishes that the split has already happened between Diana and Charles. Both of them are living with their respective partners, Dodi Fayed and Camilla Parker Bowles. Even as divorce impacts both Diana and Charles, the weight seems to bother Diana more than it does Charles. As much as he tries his best to bring positive media coverage for his partner’s birthday bash, it simply gets overruled by Diana’s relationship with Dodi. But it is disappointing that the relationship between Diana and her boyfriend is never explored to its full potential.

Streaming on: Netflix

Cast: Imelda Staunton, Elizabeth Debicki, Dominic West, Khalid Abdalla, and others

To put things into perspective, The Crown majorly focuses on the growing relationship between Dodi and Diana, something that Dodi’s father actively persuades. But we are also shown Dodi’s past girlfriend/fiancée Kelly, who seems to be visibly (and rightfully so) upset about the media making his romance brew with Diana instead. As much as the makers spent time exploring the married Diana’s psyche when her husband had an ongoing extramarital affair, the series gravely skips to do the same later. We don’t know what made Dodi and Kelly’s relationship take a dead turn. Instead, it only brutally repositions Diana in Camilla’s position, only this time Dodi taking over Charles’ place. It also almost feels like the makers had an eye of a blind balance rather than to show what these lives had to offer.

The Crown makers also chose this season to have callbacks to certain moments from Diana’s life. At one point, in one of their ice cream date escapades to the streets, Diana says how someday she wishes to move farther away and lead a life where she is not hunted down, and Dodi mentions California. It is fascinating because years later, we know how Prince Harry moved along with his wife Meghan Markle to California. It seems like a sweet tribute, and The Crown also makes a worthy mention of Diana’s famous landmine walk that took place in Angola, while the series shows it in Bosnia. But all said, Elizabeth Debicki almost makes you meet the real Diana, with her utmost truthful and compelling portrayal.

Along with the minor fact checks, The Crown seems to touch upon Diana’s life post her royal split. But none of these instances amount to the weightage that the season gives to the paparazzi and the power of photography. In fact, rather than dishonouring the disgrace that brings in evading one’s private space, the show almost glorifies it. The season knows how each of the angles of photographs plastered on the front pages of the tabloid can be deceiving, concealing, and sometimes manipulative, but the show never takes a chance to make a valid commentary about it, even as the issue persists.

It might be interesting to wait and watch the second and final episodes of The Crown conclude, given that history has already witnessed enough royal drama in the present. But, The Crown S6 part has its poignant moment, but it is also a rather dismissive and hastily done tribute to one of the most loved iconic personalities that rose from the people.

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