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[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.


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