“Even the television set represents a metaphor in this place“, he said at one point in the fifth season of The Crown Queen Imelda Staunton’s Elizabeth II, who after moving from the cinema of Mike Leigh at the Hogwarts of the Harry Potter saga, in Netflix’s Buckingham Palace had found the role for which she will be remembered: but television in this case is not just a metaphor, it is everything.
Per un’opera così potente e così in grado di intercettare la contemporaneità e le sue coincidenze, la televisione diventa una lente attraverso la quale rivivere la Storia per ritrarre i drammi interiori di freddi corpi umani fatti simboli, per riflettere sul modo in cui il mondo li guarda, costantemente, ossessivamente, al solo scopo di ritrovarci un po’ di sé stesso, nel bene e nel male.
In their first summer as a divorced couple, Prince Charles and Princess Diana share very different vacations with their children: Diana in the south of France is being courted by the Fayed family, who are offering the young princes a vacation of luxury yachts, video games and movie nights, Charles (we want to take two three hours to talk about what an extraordinary actor Dominc West is? Better not come on!) sticks to tradition at Balmoral.
The press meanwhile emphasizes comparisons between the two, abetted by insistent paparazzi and some members of the royal press staff: against the backdrop of intense and aggressive media hounding, a detour of Lady Diana and Dodi Al Fayed in Paris brings situation to a climaxand after the news of the car accident that costs both their lives (try complaining about the spoiler, try it) the Queen will have to deal with a wave of public grief that will catch her off guard.
The Crown 6: Netflix’s crown jewel
After Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, the actress Elizabeth Debicki returns to the extra-luxury yachts for an icy performance of Lady Diana’s last days, a role she inherited from the young Emma Corin (who had played her in The Crown 4) and which in recent years we have seen take much warmer and more private forms in the splendid Spencer by Pablo Larrain with Kristen Stewart (here our analysis of Pablo Larrain’s Spencer).
In the hieratic world of The Crown created by Peter Morgan it is never clear who the real protagonists are, whether the subjects being told or the audience watching, and this final season shuffles the cards even more. At one point in The Crown 5, the camera was placed inside the television to look at the face of the elderly Elizabeth beyond the mirror, while one of the nodal points of the story was represented by a TV interview; similarly, indeed more so, season 6 of The Crown is obsessed with the world’s constructed opinion of characters from photos and headlines, with a key passage of the plot entrusted to the lenses of two photographers with completely different methods and philosophies.
It is as if Diana’s arrival in the series – the most ‘human’ of the Buckingham Palace royals – allowed Peter Morgan to change his perspective to tell the story of the British monarchy, tracing a diagonal through History to reach all the way to our news broadcasts, our television sets. Perhaps the most resounding aspect of all, however is how – reasoning through the bodies and the spaces they occupy, bodies that are constantly changing (because the actors change) and spaces that remain the same (because the institution of the Crown, or the System as the series defines it remain unchanging over time) – The Crown 6 manages to take on the features of a monument to time, due to its dual ability to flow and stay together.