By Kate Picone ’23
The new Princess Diana movie, Spencer, comes to theaters Nov. 5, 2021 and is expected to take the box office by storm. Princess Diana has influenced the United States and British society in fashion, feminism, and humanitarianism since she entered the royal family in 1981 when she married Prince Charles. Since her tragic death, coverage of her life, marriage, and relationship with the Crown have only increased. Books, movies, and, most recently, the television series The Crown have endeavored to tell the real story of her life in the royal family.
Spencer, the newest adaptation of Diana’s experiences, is expected to explore the three days before she separated from Prince Charles at Sandringham during the Christmas of 1991. While the movie is not out yet, the trailer gives the audience a good indication that this will be the closest account of Diana’s life in the last few days of her stint under the Crown’s direct rule to be conveyed on the screen.
Kristen Stewart stars as Diana, and her performance as the late princess has been praised as “a mega stroke of genius” by the New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan. Stewart’s authentic emulation of Lady Di is important since, unlike other television shows and films about her life, Spencer is more concerned with her than with the royal intrigue that came to shape her life. The film’s title, which is her maiden name, is the first indication of this unique approach to telling her story.
A second indication comes with the first trailer for the film. Throughout the clip there are many close-up shots of Princess Diana’s face, suggesting that viewers should focus on her emotions and reactions to the paparazzi, her husband, and her mother-in-law—the queen herself.
Another interesting aspect of this film is that it examines the princess after she had been a member of the royal family for a significant period of time. Spencer sees her enduring her husband’s affair, constant scrutiny from the royal rules, and attacks from paparazzi. Indeed, Stewart’s Diana is in an incredibly raw and vulnerable state.
In the trailer, Prince Charles is seen explaining to Diana that she has to be two people: one that she shows to the public and one who she can be behind closed doors. This kind of discussion is likely not far off from real life as Diana was constantly reminded to be a royal, not herself, by people like her husband and the queen.
The trailer alone indicates that Spencer will be a beautiful, sad, and tragic story of a free spirit caged by the regulations of a life she was pushed into. In addition to Buchanan’s glowing review of Stewart’s performance in the titular role, other reviews express that she played the part of the late princess with a passion and liveliness inspired by Diana’s legacy.
In a Venice Film Festival interview, Stewart expressed that playing the princess made her feel “free and alive” and went on to describe her as “a sparkly house on fire.” The actress’ unique way of describing Princess Diana further affirms the seriousness with which she took the assignment of bringing the beloved icon to life as well as that Spencer will be a touching dedication to the loveable and iconic princess.