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Ed Perkins, director of The Princess, on Lady Diana: "What interests me in this drama is the complicity of the public"


In a breathtaking documentary made exclusively from archive footage, in theaters on August 31, director Ed Perkins questions the relationship of the British to Lady Di, but also to the monarchy. Maintenance.

Ed Perkins has a precise memory of August 31, 1997. That day, Lady Diana, pursued by a horde of paparazzi, lost her life in a tragic car accident.

The 11-year-old boy discovers, amazed, the images of hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the streets of London - an "unprecedented outpouring of grief".

The child is confused: “I was sad, but I had a hard time understanding why it touched people in such a personal way”, confides today the director of

The Princess

, a documentary devoted to the mother of Princes Harry and William, in theaters August 31.

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25 years later, his film only composed of archive images (news bulletin, special programs, interviews) and broadcast on the HBO platform from August 13, explores the tumultuous existence of Lady Diana.

But also the complex relationship of the public to an icon of our time.

“I hope that my documentary will provide some answers to this central question: Why did we react in this way to his disappearance?

What was our relationship to Lady Diana?

explains Ed Perkins to

Madame Figaro


In order, perhaps, to seek out the emotional truths that lie behind this drama.

An immersive experience

Miss Figaro.

- The Princess

does not include voice-overs or expert interviews.

Why did you choose to use only archive footage in your documentary?

Ed Perkins.


I wanted to make this documentary an immersive experience.

As if the scenes were taking place in the present, before our eyes.

The editing by Jinx Godfrey and Daniel Lapira, which gives rhythm to the film, was therefore an essential element, as was the music.

We worked with Martin Phipps, an incredible composer who wrote the soundtrack for the last seasons of

The Crown


His scores helped give intensity to the feature film.

The idea, in choosing this format, was to offer viewers the necessary space to draw their own conclusions, without specialists telling them what to feel.

What are the unseen or rare images that can be seen in your documentary?

Of course, we hoped to discover unpublished images.

It was not the case.

The documentary does, however, feature rare footage.

There is notably a video, at the end of the film, in which a group of men are playing cards in front of the television.

When they learn of Lady Diana's death, their faces express absolute shock.

This reaction is like ours.

It was unthinkable for us that the princess dies.

After all, fairy tales don't end that way.

What is strong in this sequence is that it brings the audience back to where it was at that precise moment, 25 years ago.

With one difference: today, we have more perspective on what happened.

, read books about Lady Diana… Thanks to this documentary, I hope viewers will be able to see Lady Diana's life in a new light.

Lady Diana is like a silent film star.

She has this incredible way of expressing her emotions without speaking.

Ed Perkins

How did you select the images for your documentary?

The ones we chose often had to do with the princess's body language.

Lady Diana is like a silent film star.

She has this incredible way of expressing her emotions without speaking.

The princess understood the power of her own image.

In that sense, she was a natural storyteller.

We were interested in the subtext of these sequences, without making it a pro or anti-monarchy, pro or anti-press film.

The idea was to tell the facts in a balanced way.

Lady Diana's story is one of the most iconic of our time.

Admittedly, these events happened 25 years ago, but watching this film, people will find in it inevitable echoes of our present.

What kind of echoes?

When we started this documentary, at the beginning of confinement, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had just left the United Kingdom to settle in the United States.

People were just talking about that.

Even today, this decision fascinates and polarizes.

It reminded me of Diana's life.

For 16 years, everything she did was dissected by the people.

His life had become a national obsession.

It was almost a sitcom.

For us, the public, it was entertainment, and I believe that we perceive the “Megxit” in the same way.

The film invites us to carefully rethink our attitude towards such events.

In video, HBO unveils the trailer for its disturbing documentary

The Princess

on the other side of the mirror

How do you explain that, 25 years after her death, Lady Diana still enjoys such an aura?

If we still talk about it today, maybe it's because we are still trying, as a people, to come to terms with what happened and the role we played.

What interests me the most is our complicity in this drama, what it says about our desire to see this kind of fairy tale come true, to know everything about the private lives of personalities.

The goal is not to blame people, but to initiate an adult conversation on this topic.

I hope the film will act as a sort of mirror, and force us to ask ourselves some tough questions about our relationship to Lady Diana, the monarchy and fame.

After the Princess' death, the British people and the press turned against the Windsors

Ed Perkins

How has the public's view of the monarchy evolved in recent decades?

The film evokes a significant change in the relationship between the monarchy and the people.

In 1981, when Charles and Diana married, the British had a deep sense of respect for the royal family.

Many people saw in this union a symbol of hope.

In 1997, after the Princess' death, the British people and the press turned against the Windsors.

They asked difficult questions about how they dealt with the death – but also the life – of Lady Diana.

This may be the origin of the tensions between the royal family and the public.

Yet these relationships are changing.

In the film, Lady Diana says she hopes to see the monarchy walk hand in hand with the people.

However, this summer

we celebrated the jubilee and attended this great reunion of the British with the royal family.

Whether or not it's thanks to the princess, the Windsors want to be less distant.

The public can be ambivalent.

Do we want the royal family to be accessible, or do we want them to keep their magic?

The truth is, we want both.

And Lady Diana was probably the only one who could combine these two dimensions.

On video, images of Charles and Diana's wedding restored in a new documentary

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2022-08-11

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