The Reflection

Gull Lake High School's Online News Source

Spencer honors Princess Diana (contains spoilers)

Diana Spencer was many things to many people: a philanthropist, an activist, a symbol of wealth, a royal, a mother. Numerous biopics produced have been about her life since she died in a car crash in 1997. However, when Pablo Larraín, the director of Jackie, announced he was directing Spencer, a movie set during Christmas at Sandringham in 1991 when Diana decided to leave Prince Charles, it promised to be an innovative glance at the often glamorized princess. 

Courtesy of Creative Commons Photo

Two topics that rarely get coverage in Diana Spencer biopics are her sons and her Bulimia; Larraín incorporated both. In numerous scenes, Diana (played by Kristen Stewart) rejects the royal chef’s offer to make her favorite meal. At Christmas Eve dinner with the royal family, Diana feels so constrained that she fantasizes about breaking her pearl necklace into her soup and eating the soup with pearls in it. She feels so constrained that eating soup feels like eating pearls. At the Christmas dinner, Diana is relegated to puking while crying in her bathroom. Young Prince William, her son, eventually comes into her room to convince her to attend the dinner. 

“Only for a little while,” William begs.

At first, Diana comes out of the bathroom and starts to walk down the hall, but then runs back into the bathroom. Bittersweet scenes between Diana and the princes in Spencer happen as well. Diana and her sons played “sargent general” where they asked each other questions. Harry asked if Diana wanted to be Queen, and she replied, “No, sir, no. I just want to be your Mum.” Including these scenes shows an unsanitized version of Diana that’s closest to who she really was: a woman trapped in a horror story who had so much love for others. It’s so much a horror story that Larraín includes Anne Boleyn in Spencer to haunt Diana.

Once she’s able to leave Sandringham to spend a day at the beach with her fashion designer and friend, Maggie, the audience is able to see how connected being part of the royal family and her mental health were. Maggie confesses she has romantic feelings towards Diana, and the two genuinely laugh. There’s a freeness Diana exhibits. Not only does the scene between Diana and Maggie contrast Diana’s anxiety around the Royals, showing Diana’s complete sanity, but it’s also a metaphor for how involved she was with the LGBTQ+ community. 

In an interview with Esquire, Steven Knight, the writer of Spencer, discussed why he chose to portray Diana in this light. 

“She was a completely ordinary person being put into a mad situation,” Knight said

Too many Diana movies characterize her as a mysterious vixen, especially the 2013 movie Diana, which ignores Diana’s humanness in favor of romance; essentially a rom-com based little in fact. As pointed out by Youtuber Leena Norms in her Spencer vs Diana video, Diana’s real-life former love interest Dr. Hasnat Khan hates the 2013 Diana for the way it portrayed their romance. Spencer does none of that. It’s a brilliantly feminist look at a terrifying moment in Diana Spencer’s life, and I highly recommend it.

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