In the final moments of the trailer for The Princess, Prince Charles shows his son the lens of a camera. He urges the boy to see the people “trapped” inside as Princess Diana looks on with the sense of deep despondency a person only accesses when hearing the absolute truth blurted out loud. It is approximately the one-trillionth camera featured in the trailer for the film, highlighting the looming terror of eyes constantly on top of the public’s favorite subject of the day. There’s no loss of irony that Princess Diana is such a compelling figure that our own destructive obsession with her warrants its own feature-length examination.
Directed by Ed Perkins, Oscar-nominated for his documentary short Black Sheep, and produced by the Oscar-winning Simon Chinn of Searching For Sugarman and Man on Wire, the doc is comprised of archival footage, personal shots and, tellingly, paparazzi video. It follows Charles and Diana’s courtship, marriage, and eventually divorce fallout through the eyes of the media and an insatiable mob gobbling up every sordid detail to come to their own conclusions. While recognizing the absurd amount of films and news specials that already tell Princess Diana’s story, Perkins said he was most interested in learning what our obsession with her says about us. “What is our relationship to not just monarch but celebrity? What was our role and perhaps our complicity in this tragic tale?” Based on the trailer, it seems like we had a lot of complicity.
Thanks to longform podcasts like You’re Wrong About and films like Spencer, Diana’s life has been reimagined in the context of what constant, oppressive scrutiny can do, especially to female celebrities. The Princess is next in line to reconsider that story, and it looks phenomenal.