Binge watch these stories that depict various aspects of her eventful life and tragic death
On August 31, 1997, a wave of shock and disbelief swept through the world when Diana, Princess of Wales died in a car crash in Paris. Someone who had captured the imagination of millions from the time she emerged from a carriage dressed as a princess bride in 1981 was no more. Even decades later, her activism, forthrightness, beauty and unfinished life story continue to be retold in multiple versions in cinema, OTT shows and documentaries. This August, we pick a few such narratives that you too can revisit on the small screen.
1) Diana: The Night She Died (iTAP)
Directed by David Cohen, this documentary probes the unanswered questions around the death of Princess Diana when on an ill-fated night in August, while being chased by a posse of paparazzi, her car crashed into a concrete divider in a tunnel, took her life and that of Dodi Al Fayed and the driver Henri Paul. So who was to blame for this avoidable tragedy? The paparazzi who were relentless in their pursuit of Diana all her life? The driver of the Mercedes, Henri Paul who was supposedly drunk? Or a conspiracy nobody has been able to get to the bottom of? Watch this compelling documentary only on iTAP, to know if there are any answers or only questions that will continue to haunt us forever.
2) Princess in Love (Amazon Prime)
This film, now available on Amazon Prime, was based on a book by James Hewitt who during Princess Diana’s lifetime and even after death, continued to profit from his alleged romance with her. He grew famous at her expense when in 1994, he worked with author Anna Pasternak to release the tell-all book ‘Princess in Love’ . In 1996, just one year before Diana’s death, a film based on the book was released. Directed by David Greene, it starred Robert Beck, Christopher Bowen and Julie Cox. The fact that Hewitt released another book on the affair after Diana’s death and tried to sell her love letters shows the extent to which she continues to be exploited for fame and money even now.
3) The Crown-Season 4 and 5 (Netflix)
The question whether the blockbuster series ‘The Crown’ is for or against monarchy may never be answered but it has raised controversy in the way it has depicted Princess Diana in its last two seasons. While Prince Charles has been depicted as a lost boy who was raised in an emotionally inert household and was denied his true love, Diana often comes across as childish, manipulative, fame hungry and emotionally unstable. With superlative production values and aided by accomplished actors, this Netflix hit does however make for a compelling watch. Emma Corrin plays Diana in Season 4 and Elizabeth Debicki in Season 5.
4) Spencer (Netflix)
Kristen Stewart aimed for top acting honours with this 2021 film and was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Critics’ Choice Movie Award for her portrayal of Diana. Directed by Pablo Larraín from a screenplay by Steven Knight, this was a stark portrayal of the excess of luxury and privilege enjoyed by the royal family and its inability to relate with Diana on a human level. Diana’s suffocation spirals into a final confrontation between her and the royal family during the Christmas of 1991 when she decides to leave the Sandringham estate in Norfolk with her boys. Jack Farthing played Charles in an ensemble cast starring Timothy Spall, Sean Harris, and Sally Hawkins.
5) Diana (Netflix):
Based on Kate Snell’s 2001 book, ‘Diana: Her Last Love’, this film too tries to imagine what it must have been like for Diana to reach out for love again and again only to be disillusioned repeatedly. The film delineates the supposed relationship between Diana and Dr Hasnat Khan, a cardiologist of Pakistani origin during the last two years of her life. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, the film stars Noami Watts in a titular role of Diana and Naveen Andrews as Dr Hasnat and depicts how a brokenhearted princess after being turned down by Hasnat reaches out to Dodi Al Fayed for comfort only to then lose her life in a horrific car accident.