shadowkat: (Default)
[personal profile] shadowkat
Finally finished watching The Crown Season 1, which is about Queen Elizabeth II's reign from her marriage, her coronation, through her sister, Princess' Margaret's brief and somewhat tragic broken engagement to Captain Townsend.

The mini-series by Stephen Daldry is extremely good. I have no idea how accurate it is to the actual events.

It is however an interesting artistic portrait of Britain and The Crown during this time period -- there's an episode that sort of describes the intent of the series, through an analogy of sorts. Which I didn't pick up on until I began to write this review.


It's the second to last episode, where Winston Churchill decides to resign. In the episode, there's this amazing interlude, where Churchill is sitting for a portrait commissioned by both heads of parliament. The artist is Sutherland. During his sitting both Churchill and Sutherland examine each other's paintings, and focus on a painting that each made after their child died. Sutherland focuses on Churchill's continuous painting of gold fish pound that Churchill later reveals he put in a year after his daughter Marigold died. And Churchill focuses on one that Sutherland did. Then they discuss painting...and Sutherland tells Churchill that he can't hope that Churchill will like his work. But he tries to paint what he sees, the truth as he sees it, the person.
And then they discuss each other's paintings, and Sutherland remarks that he saw great pain, and sorrow, a darkness underneath the gold fish pound painting. Churchill wonders, is that a reflection of what is in you or me. Except, Churchill was obviously feeling these emotions when he created the painting.

Later, when the portrait is finally revealed. Churchill feels humiliated by it and hates it.
He rejects the painting. Sutherland goes to visit him and asks why...telling Churchill, who rants at him for showing his likeness in such an unflattering manner...that he is an artist, he can't not paint what he sees. But it is just art, it is not personal.

I think, in an odd, way, Daldry is stating that is true of this miniseries as well. This is an interpretation of events through the lense of writers, many years past when they took place. And, many of the events they are interpreting took place behind closed doors and between people both living and dead who told no one outside of their nearest and dearest about them.

Often those who live in the public eye are the most remote. It's as if they are encased in glass or marble, we can see but not touch. They cannot show the all too human pain and suffering beneath the plastic smiles.

I don't envy Elizabeth her Crown, or her life, of wealth and posterity, but...decisions that isolate her. Towards the end of the mini-series, she's adrift. Isolated. With little to no support from friends or family, or so it seems. The husband she loves, can't come to terms with his role as perpetual side-kick, seen but seldom heard. And her sister can't forgive her for standing with the Church of England, and not letting her marry the divorced Townsend. (Although I don't see how either Phillip or her sister thought she had a choice in the matter, considering when the Prince of Wales did it, not that long prior, he had to abdicate the throne and move to France. And he even counsels his niece to stand with the Church. He tells her that as Queen she can't really abide by her promise or pledge, she's split in half. )

I didn't blame Elizabeth, I blamed an antiquated law within the Church that was created in a time period where people didn't live that long, and well people didn't marry for love but property and advancement. Historically, marriage wasn't about love it was about property and procreation. It really was about division of property.
And I blame a lot of old men who can't change or get rid of antiquated laws that no longer make any logical sense. Inflexibility or the inability to handle change can lead to immoral acts. As you can see, I got angry at the Church of England and wanted someone to rip them a new one. But I can see why Elizabeth didn't, even though she desperately wanted to and did not agree with them, because doing so would have destablized her government and country. It could have caused instability.

Historically, it's not clear what happened. Because according to what I've been able to find, Margret mysteriously called off the romance after the two years were up and said that they'd chosen to go their separate ways. So the above is just the artist's interpretation of the events. Which makes me wonder why they chose this interpretation, as opposed to a less damning one of Church and Country? Maybe because this one provided the most angst and drama? Or it appears this was the most logical reason?

I was watching The Crown partly to try and understand the Brits and their monarchy.
I don't. I admit that. I think there are certain cultural differences between countries, faiths, etc that are difficult to wrap one's head around?

Years ago, back in the 1980s, I wandered around Wales collecting Welsh folk stories, mainly ghost stories and jokes, and had an interesting discussion in a pub with a bunch of Welshmen and women. It was regarding politics and the Crown. On the wall of the pub, was a portrait of the Prince of Wales -- Edward, who they still revered.
They asked me what my political stance was. Was I Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Labor? I told them that I was moderate and pretty much neither, I despised Reagan, didn't like Thatcher much either, and unfortunately we hadn't had any Democratic candidates that were lovable, or even likable, but I voted for them because lesser of two evils. They accused me of being wishy washy, and did not understand why I wasn't devoted to a particular party and more focused on the character of the candidates. While I had troubles understanding why they had monarchy which didn't appear to do much, except pop up for special events -- some lauded figure head. They insisted this was not true, but didn't really expand on it.

The Crown explains the monarchy bit. I still don't understand why Great Britain still has one. It seems like an anarchism in this age. But it does shed light on it.

Art can do that, if done well. It can also confuse and pass on incorrect information.
So, it bodes well to take some of it with a grain of salt.

At the end of the Churchill episode, Churchill burns his portrait. We have no way of knowing if he actually did -- the portrait is consider the Lost Masterpiece. So this is just conjecture. And the writer's of the series fully admit it -- showing in writing the truth.

The series is a fictionalized portrait of Queen Elizabeth the II, depicting the challenges and burdens surrounding her day to day duty as Queen. As seen through the lense of the writers, it examines various themes and moral quandaries. Such as should religious doctrine get in the way of love? And should duty break apart family? And to what degree if any, is image and stature important to maintain? Or power for that matter?

It raises some interesting issues. Ones that don't have any clear answers, which is shown as well. In particular, when Elizabeth navigates the treacherous waters of determining the fate of her sister's love life. A job Elizabeth does not want any part of, but has no choice in.

Date: 2017-06-11 06:24 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Gwen as Queen (MERL-GwenQueen-angelqueen04)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
The husband she loves, can't come to terms with his role as perpetual side-kick, seen but seldom heard.

Not only that but he apparently married her at the urging of his family for status. At this point given the decades they have been together, who's to say if their marriage was the best thing for both of them or not. But it was good for the story, I think, to demonstrate that successful or prominent women never get support from their husbands the way women more routinely do so the other way around so that marriages are much the same as ever, and we haven't progressed much at all.

Regarding your question, I gather that they were not torn apart by the decision so much as the enforced separation (which, essentially, served its purpose in turning their attention elsewhere) and it's very doubtful that Edward and Elizabeth spoke about this or other issues. However since the story is centrally about Elizabeth I'm guessing Margaret's dilemma was framed this way to create the isolation you cited and also give more weight to her role as sovereign.

BTW, I think your comment about how the art arc is in some ways a commentary on the whole series is a really interesting one. Maybe link this post to [community profile] tv_talk? There must be some other viewers of it there.

There were a few thing I found fascinating about the series, such as the episode about the London poisonings, and its reference to the Pennsylvania incident, which I don't remember ever hearing about before. Disturbingly timely given Trump's very recent rollbacks of EPA regulations >:( It also made me think of recent reports of China's growing panic over its pollution problems and the way some families have evacuated their children out of cities for their health.

In fact, generally much of The Crown resonated with more recent controversies and clashes -- at least recent within my lifetime. I also found fascinating the information about Elizabeth's lack of education. No idea what sort of education expected kings got and she grew up never expecting to wear the crown. But even so, it's rather shocking how little practical knowledge she had. I thought that part got rather truncated as we never learn how long she kept the tutor and how far she progressed.

Date: 2017-06-11 08:39 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Arthur in front of Camelot (MERL-ArthurCastle-andiwould)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
So her mother has troubles with Phillip, because...she'd been in Phillip's role and was able to make the most of it. Why can't Phillip?

Yes, that's a good point. She remained very influential in the family, and especially so when Elizabeth's children were growing up. According to the new book on Charles, she tried to intervene several times in opposition to Phillip's decision about his education (to little avail, as Elizabeth sided with him perhaps for the very reasons focused on in The Crown).

And oh yes, he definitely had affairs. There are rumors Elizabeth did as well and at least some circulated around Andrew's birth, much like they still do today regarding Prince Harry's.

I think tv talk is definitely for all shows, I know I've seen conversations about comedies and procedurals. The bigger problem is that if there's only 50 people or so engaged that few will overlap shows and fewer will overlap a certain level of interest in those shows. But you never know who's reading who hasn't commented yet.

That's an interesting discussion about women's education. I suspect that's been obscured for me because my mother's father was his town's teacher, so all his children graduated "high school" and several went on to higher education including my mother. She was about 10 years younger than Elizabeth so just barely of the same generation.

I wish they'd delved a little deeper into the problem, but they wouldn't have nor would Elizabeth have cared or known about all of that.

I agree it makes sense not to focus on anything but her likely role in the future. She wouldn't have been expected to run a business or do anything of consequence as a result of her social class, regardless of being in the succession, I imagine. But I did like the fact that they emphasized how very unprepared she was to even understand the reports her government was obligated to supply her with. Given her role is to advise, she's poorly prepared to do so without any understanding of world affairs or at least a cursory knowledge of daily life concerns of her subjects. And I think you're likely right about the time period too. I was in the same generation as Princess Diana and while I gather she had a broader basic education than Elizabeth, I doubt any of it was particularly advanced.

Date: 2017-06-13 11:58 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: LibraryGeek-eyesthatslay (BUF-LibraryGeek-eyesthatslay)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Oh yes, it's much more cultural and connected to personality. For example, there might be one person in a family who goes on to higher ed or to lead an academic life.

Date: 2017-06-14 02:35 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: ArthurLookUp-ninneve (MERL-ArthurLookUp-ninneve)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Yes, and Charles takes after Elizabeth and actually was considered the intellectual of the family.

Date: 2017-06-13 11:59 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Lorne and Wes take aim (BUF-Timing-effulgentgirl)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Yes, I agree Smith gave him a more relatable portrayal. But I suspect there wasn't a lot positive to say about him. I gather that Margaret also developed cancer, so she ended up taking after her father whereas Elizabeth has taken after her long-lived mother. Given that Phillip is older he's definitely beaten the odds for longevity.

Date: 2017-06-14 02:45 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Leon is surprised he has lines in Merlin (MERL-LeonSpeaks - Red Scharlach.jpg)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Heh, well it's her uncle Edward who was actually a Nazi sympathizer. I thought it interesting that his portrayal here was vaguely sympathetic, although the people who actually were most sympathetic to him, like his sister, don't even appear in the series.

The cancer issue is certainly an intersting mix of genetics and behavior. That the Queen Mother lived so long when she came out of an era where not only was there constant secondhand smoke but the general air quality was terrible make it seem like a miracle that anyone lived to their 90s. Certainly she would have the best of care, though I found it amazing (and rather disgusting) that they had surgery within the palace and also left the body there for some time. I guess the latter in particular was more typical in the day but it was kind of a fascinating look at how Elizabeth lived at a turning point in history not just in cultural mores but in terms of everyday life.

Date: 2017-06-14 05:23 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: MerlinArthurQuestion-yourlibrarian (MERL-MerlinArthurQuestion-yourlibrarian)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
Yes, I agree there's definitely been a turnaround on his portrayal. I think at the time with so little known about him (and it being pre-war) the idea of a handsome prince willing to leave his high profile position and country for the love of a woman who was never seen in a flattering light seemed romantic. It's not often a man is seeing as giving up everything for love so it was definitely an unusual story.

Though it was hardly everything -- I noticed that in The Crown Margaret was offered a similar exit for Townsend in which she likely could have lived decently on his salary. But I noticed she didn't take it. By comparison Edward and Wallis lived quite well, albeit in exile, and he always had the cachet of being a royal which got them a lot of benefits. If Edward had actually been cut off without a cent, I do wonder if he'd have been so willing to step down. Or if Wallis would have been willing to marry him after all.

Given what's been known of them since -- pretty unflattering all around -- I found the portrayal pretty even handed in The Crown. But I think they were rather stuck in that regard because so much decision making during Elizabeth's early reign was so clearly influenced by Edward's choices that even if they'd had no contact they almost had to make him a figure in the story. And that meant making him a real person.

Date: 2017-06-14 07:21 pm (UTC)
yourlibrarian: Perfect Enemies Buffy and Faith (BUF-PerfectEnemies-watchersgoddess)
From: [personal profile] yourlibrarian
I imagine there was gender bias, but mostly I expect it was because (1) Edward was already king at the time of abdication, so he had more power to set terms, and (2) Margaret would be following in his footsteps, so the terms were likely to be harsher for her so as to discourage other family members from doing the same.

I think you mean George (he was King George but Albert by birth), and he was a grandchild. But yes, the whole divorce issue seemed so odd to me when the Church of England was founded on the principle of divorce. If Henry hadn't wanted more wives he could still be Catholic and a lot fewer people would have died over the centuries in pointless religious conflict.

Profile

shadowkat: (Default)
shadowkat

Page Summary

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 20th, 2017 03:46 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios