The Crown was able to postpone the death of Princess Diana for only three seasons, but in the sixth season the time has finally come. Everything we see revolves around her impending car crash in the Parisian tunnel – especially the growing clicking of the press photographers and the whirring of their scooters as they chase the princess further and further. Diana gets many warm moments with her two children, to teach viewers what the boys will soon miss. When she says goodbye to her sons you keep thinking: this could be the last time. When she makes a stopover in Paris at the insistence of her holiday friend Dodi, you think: don’t do it, Diana!
Initially, the popular British historical series moved briskly through the lives of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and her family, from her wedding in 1947 to modern times. But once Princess Diana arrived in season four, series lead Peter Morgan slammed on the brakes. He wanted to enjoy the most charismatic and dramatic character that contemporary royal history has to offer for as long as possible. With the arrival of Diana, other plot lines and characters gradually disappeared from view. No more politics, no more royal struggle between private life and public function. The queen herself mattered less and less. The new and final season, first half, completes that development: it is only about Diana.
Netflix put the first four episodes online on Thursday, the other five episodes will follow on December 14. The first half of the sixth season was received negatively by the British press on Thursday The Guardian finally chopped in the pan. This criticism partly has to do with the fact that The Crown comes closer and closer to the present. As a result, the series already lost the charms of the costume drama, with the sumptuous decoration of the forties, fifties and sixties. Moreover, the writers lost space to fill in something themselves. They were increasingly reminded of historical carelessness. The series increasingly imitated images we were already familiar with. There was also ethical criticism: were you allowed to make up drama about people who are still walking around? Aren’t you just as bad as the paparazzi, who are portrayed in the series as disgusting bloodhounds?
Cast about Diana in The Crown final: ‘Filming her last moments was unbearable’
But the sixth season, first half, turns out not to be that bad at all. It starts with the usual skirmishes between Crown Prince Charles and Diana, who try to meet each other through the press after their divorce. The two reconcile, just in time. Diana tries to enjoy herself on a Mediterranean yacht with holiday friend Dodi, but the pressure from the tabloid press becomes increasingly suffocating. According to a telephone consultation with her psychiatrist, Diana has a drama addiction. The series hints that Diana wants to slow down, away from the spotlight, closer to her children. But first this…
The big problem with this sixth season is that Diana’s story has already been told very often. There are dozens of films, series and documentaries about the princess who died young. Screenwriter Peter Morgan previously wrote the film himself The Queenwhich portrayed the aftermath of Diana’s death in a much more poignant way. The Crown 6 1/2 feels like a fill-in-the-blank exercise.
The series has always been most interesting when the writers took the liberty to come up with something on their own. This time it works best when they deepen the romance between Dodi and Diana. No, it’s not her new love, they weren’t getting married. Dodi and Diana have more of a friendship of two children who felt unseen by their fathers. Their last conversation is beautiful, when they lovingly confront each other with their shortcomings.
Also strong are the delicate manipulations of Dodi’s father, the Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed. In season 5, he was a charming upstart who desperately wanted to join the British upper class, but who was repeatedly rejected by the royal family. Now he has been promoted to the villain of the season. Ruthlessly he pushes his son Dodi on top of the princess. If Dodi were to marry Diana, that’s Dad’s plan, he would finally belong to the English elite. He does not shy away from sending the paparazzi on the lovers. Against her will, he has the hunted princess dragged to his palace in Paris. Then comes the accident. Now he has lost his son and is still an outcast. Lost everything.
The post first appeared on www.nrc.nl