The Queen (2006)

A subtle imagining of the diplomatically nuanced relationship between Queen Elizabeth II (an Oscar-winning Helen Mirren) and Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) following Princess Diana’s death.
“Helen Mirren [is] granted an unbeatable chance to expose the twin sides of her appeal: the warmth and the chill. How many actresses, since Dietrich and Bacall, have managed to make the forbidding seem so winning, and vice versa?” Anthony Lane, New Yorker, 2006 One of the more bizarre episodes of recent British history is dramatised here by Peter Morgan as a knowing comedy of manners. It begins with Tony Blair’s 1997 electoral triumph, when he comes across as a tongue-tied schoolboy in the presence of a woman who was crowned before he was born. However, as the emotional fallout from Diana’s premature death sweeps the nation he realises that he has a far more acute grasp of the situation and its political perils – but has to find the right diplomatic language in which to express it. Morgan draws witty parallels between the pairings of Prince Philip and the Queen Mother (conservative royalists) and Cherie Blair and Alastair Campbell (radical republicans) while portraying the Queen herself as a far more complex figure than the usual one-note caricature: Helen Mirren’s Oscar-winning performance probably did as much to boost her subject’s public image as any recent high-profile ceremony. Peter Morgan and Michael Sheen collaborated on similarly imaginative treatments of recent political history in The Deal (2003), Frost/Nixon (2008), The Damned United (2009) and The Special Relationship (2010).
2006 United Kingdom, France, Italy
Directed by
Stephen Frears
Produced by
Andy Harries, Christine Langan, Tracey Seaward
Written by
Peter Morgan
Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell
Running time
102 minutes