Over the weekend I watched The Queen, which, happily, is up for awards this Oscar season. I’ll spare a plot summary, and rather suggest that it is a film well worth watching- a fine, if slow in places, story arc, with good witty dialogue and some lovely cinematography- any film with big sweeping shots of the Scottish Highlands gets some appreciation from me, whatever its other merits.
The most interesting aspect of the film I thought was its portrayal of value-shift, as manifest in the orgiastic public overflow of emotion in response to Diana’s death. The Queen finds herself unable, at first, to simply accept that people are actually acting this way- she insists for some time that the newspapers are merely sensationalizing the story; upon coming to accept the public’s true feelings she believes they will quickly pass. When that does not happen she finds herself truly perplexed at the shift in value in British society- not only in the excessive emoting, but also in the apparent lack of respect for even the vestiges of tradition and protocol. This includes British religious attitudes. In one scene Tony Blair is conversing with the Queen’s secretary, who tells Mr Blair that the Queen understands herself to have been appointed by God to her position. Mr Blair reacts to this statement by contemptuously asking, “What does God have to do with it?” However, where many other films would lead us to applaud such a progressive attitude, The Queen casts an unfavourable light upon such flippancy and, if you will, vulgarity. We are led to believe that perhaps there is something to be said for tradition, honour, values, and the rest. This is a refreshing perspective to be seen in a movie, particularly one being screened on the local mega-plex.