Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Crown

The Crown is a Netflix original program about the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the thrown of England in 1952. It covers the last parts of King George VI's reign and Elizabeth's first few years as queen. I recently completed watching the last of the 10 episodes. 

I'm not too sure how historically accurate it is. The major events certainly are, but there are numerous private conversations depicted. I assume the writers and producers took great liberties in this area, since the royal family is very protective of their personal privacy.

I found the first few episodes interesting, those about George's health issues and death, then the transfer of the crown to his mostly unprepared 26 year old daughter. There was also the story of how Elizabeth and Prince Philip came to be married. The performances were very good and the location shots were well done.

Unfortunately, I found much of it tedious. The internal conflicts among the different royal factions seemed more like a soap opera or maybe Downton Abby. I am not a fan of royalty or pomp and circumstance. The whole set of rules that guides the royal family is ridiculous as is the entire titular monarchy. 

I can't imagine living under those constraints. There is an army of people employed to enforce the rules and direct the royals. There were even laws about who they could marry. The series tries to make it out that all the royal family's trials and tribulations were monumental and important. That to me is like our current obsession with celebrity. Kim and Kanye are not important. In a real world, these issues are trivial, or at least should be.

I can kind of understand the UK keeping the monarchy, but only if they are pulling their weight. If the tourist dollars (£ pounds) they bring in more than offsets their upkeep. Seems to me that opening up all the royal residences to tours would be just as good as actually having a monarch with no real power. But I digress. 

I think The Crown is a well done, very well acted mini-series. The overall story is interesting and includes some of the real British politics of the time in addition to the backstage dealings of the Court of St. James's. I particularly enjoyed John Lithgow's portrayal of Winston Churchhill. His dealings with the young Queen Elizabeth and his own Conservative Party, especially Anthony Eden, are highlights. The series also gives some insight into Elizabeth's husband, Prince Phillip, although it is not always flattering. Princess Margaret's story is interesting and shows the cruel side of the royal rules and protocol. 

For history buffs and those who enjoy royal watching, this is a worthwhile investment of your time. If you liked Downton Abbey, I suspect you will like The Crown

I give the mini-series a solid B+ bordering on an A-. Take a look, it's way better than 91.7% of the other stuff on TV. 

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