Channel 4’s excellent publicity made me curious to see their new documentary about the life of Diana. Make sure you don’t repeat my mistake…
I know perhaps less than most about Diana. I was born in 1992, and I only vaguely remember watching her funeral on TV. I have gathered some bits and pieces from magazines and newspapers, but I can’t say honestly that I really know much about her. However, to be honest with you, the almost hour and a half documentary aired on Channel 4 told me nothing that I did not already know.
If you are a supefan, perhaps you will relish few minutes of unseen footage. Everyone else will wonder what could possibly be so fascinating in a documentary constantly interrupted by an actress’s rather stilted rendition of the Panorama interview quotes – at first I thought this was because Channel 4 didn’t have access to the Panorama footage, so they couldn’t use Diana’s voice. But then they showed snippets from it later in the documentary. So I have no clue what is going on there. Occasionally those quotes are interrupted by the repetition of the same two mournful chords of the violin. Those chords even appear in the background of cheerful photograph of the child-Diana with her pet guinea pig (and by the way the documentary didn’t even mention it was a guinea pig- I just looked up that information now) surely, we could get away from the mournful premonitions then?
There is hardly any information here about Diana at all- apart from that she was beautiful, rich and unhappy. One could almost say the whole document is a sort of fetishization of her status as the unhappy beautiful princess. There is little sense of her being a human being at all. I feel I learned more about Jackie Kennedy from Natalie Portman’s portrayal of her in a feature film (another woman who became a symbol of agonized beauty) than I did about Diana in this documentary, which ostensibly showed her “in her own words”.
Channel 4’s publicity team did a marvelous job selling the new tapes as “shaking the very foundations of the monarchy’, but they don’t tell us anything we couldn’t have easily guessed. Don’t waste your time on this, unless you happen to be a Diana devotee with lots of time to spare.