“Elizabeth A Portrait In Parts” (2022)
Running Time: 108 minutes
Produced by: Kevin Loader
Directed by: Roger Michell
Featuring: Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II: “Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements.”
Released recently on DVD is the documentary “Elizabeth A Portrait In Parts” (2022) a film that was originally released to coincide with her Platinum Jubilee, of course it also ended up marking her death as well as being director Roger Michell last movie before his death. There is no doubt that there are many options to choose from in any medium to learn or see about the Queen and the Royal Family, but this film stands out just because it was directed by Roger Michell who was a very good and successful film director and who also understood his subjects and was able to build a narrative around them. One need only view his “Nothing Like a Dame” (2018) which is proof he knew how to harness a subject as well as knowing what to include and what to remove from the narrative.
Michell’s final film tells and retells a well-worn story that many at least know of wither because they have lived through at least some of it or from the many television series that have been produced as well as the endless documentaries that have been aired The director has edited a variety of archival clips spanning the Queen’s entire life, many of them audiences have possibly seen before, which is fine as the Queen has to be one of the most famous people in history. So, we see segments of the 1953 coronation, the first to be broadcast on television. There is the footage of the Queen receiving flowers from the crowd after Diana’s death. There are endless shots of waving-at-crowds, something almost everyone as seen at some point in their own life. Of course there are also other clips that have not been seen such as an enjoyable and funny encounter with David Attenborough where he notes a sundial at Buckingham Palace is sat in the shade. There is B-roll taken from before an interview, where she seems relaxed and witty, a proper peek-behind-the-curtains.
Of course with the fun and lightness of these other clips there has to be something to counteract that, nothing is a secret but viewing these clips does make for a somber affair, we witness everything from Diana’s death to her children’s divorces to Prince Andrew claiming he can’t sweat, and some extraordinary 1992 news footage which saw the Queen jeered and booed by hostile crowds during a historic visit to Dresden, a city destroyed by British bombers. None of this is pleasant and of course with a long life as well as a long reign there are going to be ups and downs, of course with the modern media all of these downs have been witnessed by millions.
I am sure over the coming decades and centuries much will be made of Queen Elizabeth II’s life, reign and family but “Elizabeth A Portrait In Parts” is a nice relatively short trip through her life and fits well within what is available already, it does seem a nice fullstops to two lives, they should both be pleased.