A year ago, before the fifth season of The Crown appeared on Netflix, creator Peter Morgan was already asked how he would handle Diana’s death. He could only say that he was not interested in accurately reconstructing the car crash. In the first four episodes of the very last season we see what he wanted to show. The viewer follows Diana from the south of France to London, Bosnia and – ultimately – Paris, where she dies with Dodi Fayed and the driver who tried to shake off the pushy photographers. No body, no crash, just their last hours.
Elizabeth Debicki, the Australian actress who plays Diana for the second season in a row, felt the responsibility for portraying Diana more than ever. “Her story is so tragic and has touched millions of people. Now that we are telling that again, I thought it was important to do my utmost to treat it with respect,” she says NRC. She calls filming the last moments of Diana’s life “unbearable.” She admits to more comment then too Act in the scenes in which Diana and Dodi Fayed are chased on the street and in the car by a swarm of paparazzi. “It’s terrible when so many people shout at you and want something from you.”
Diana and Dodi
It is Diana’s relationship with the Egyptian Dodi Fayed that determines the story in the first four episodes. The makers thus shift the focus from the British royal family and put the spotlight on the Fayeds for the first time. One explanation for this may be that Peter Morgan already won the Oscar film in 2006 The Queen wrote, in which Queen Elizabeth’s relationship and (lack of) response is the focus.
Another, according to actor Khalid Abdalla, is to also give Dodi Fayed a face, 26 years later. “The person who was also on all the covers. To get to know him, to love him and to finally be able to mourn him. Because why do we know so little about him? That’s an important cultural question to ask.” He is less interested in answers. “I don’t think that is our responsibility. We ask the tough questions. That’s why we question the paparazzi, the driver and the choices made about who was where and when.” There would not be one reason for the tragic end of these people.
‘The Crown’ is only about Diana, which means that the free interpretation is over
To trade magazine Variety Just before the premiere, writer Peter Morgan said that he did not want to investigate the causes of the car accident, but wanted to talk about its impact. And that he wanted to ask another important question: “What was the truth about Diana’s relationship with Dodi Fayed?” To prepare for those scenes, Abdalla watched over and over the famous footage on the yacht in St. Tropez and the final moments between Dodi Fayed and Diana at the Ritz hotel in Paris. “You look for the moments that you can really cling to. Where there is no doubt about where they were and with whom. The security camera footage from the back room of the Ritz is my basis for the question about their relationship: she holds his hand behind her back, they lean their heads together and caress each other. In their tenderness I found my answer.”
Until his death earlier this year, Dodi’s father, Mohamed Fayed, was angry about how his son’s death became an afterthought in the media. He was so angry that he started a bunch of conspiracy theories claiming that Diana was actually pregnant and that he was the only one who knew it and that the couple had been murdered by British security services on behalf of Prince Philip. This was debunked in an extensive police investigation called ‘Operation Paget’. British actor Jonathan Pryce, who has played Prince Philip for two seasons now, says that he cried in 1997 when he heard about Diana’s death on the radio in Paris. “When I watched these new episodes, I was regularly reminded of that period. Dodi was dismissed in the magazines as a playboy and less important. By now focusing on their relationship, you as a viewer get a more complete version of the story,” he says. According to Khalid Abdalla, that is the power of The Crown.
Yet a row arose around the previous season when John Major and Judi Dench, among others, insisted that Netflix place a disclaimer for the series. Because the impact on the viewer and their perception of the truth would be at stake if that was not made clear The Crown is a fictionalized drama series, inspired only by true events.
According to Abdalla it is on The Crown to place history in a new light. “With every season we as viewers thought we knew what had happened, but after a new episode you were suddenly seriously scratching your head. Why didn’t you know that one detail? Not knowing is the cultural issue, more than a matter of knowing the right information. It is about the question of which stories are told and what we value. Who gets the space changes over time.”
The first part of The Crown season 6 is now on Netflix. The very last six episodes will follow on December 14.
The post first appeared on www.nrc.nl