Diana: Queen of Hearts (TV)
R1 - America - Genius Products
Review written by and copyright: James Teitelbaum (18th April 2008).
The Film

One year to the day after a href=http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0697740/>Princess Diana died (she died on August 31, 1997), this documentary aired. Just under a decade later, it comes to DVD in a bare-bones edition from Genius Products.

The documentary is narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough, who was a friend of Diana. Attenborough always has good presence and is interesting to listen to (remember that great documentary he did about Easter Island a few years back?), but he doesn't actually have a whole lot to do in this production. Most of the story is told via interviews with people who knew the princess, or through archival news and interview footage. Sir Richard fills in a few gaps.

Diana's story begins in 1961. Born into a wealthy family, she still managed to grow up as a humble and caring individual. Coming from good stock, and being free of any past behavior that might be considered scandalous, she was a good candidate for the job of being future Queen of England. In short order, and barely twenty years old, she was married to Prince Charles, and produced two sons for the royal family. Occasionally succumbing to the stress of being thrust into such a difficult position, her humanity made her all the more endearing to the people of England.

Having fulfilled her basic duty to England - breeding heirs - she went on to redefine the role of royalty in the modern world, by retaining her humility and kindness while wearing brightly colored potato sacks most of the time. She really, really, needed a royal stylist. She finally got one, and her wardrobe improved a bit, but perhaps it was too late. Charles had started to stray. By the late 1980's, Charles may or may not have hooked up with an old flame named Camilla, and by 1993 the marriage had deteriorated completely. So, the sweet and caring Diana shocked the world by asking for a royal divorce, which was granted three years later. Of course, this sort of scandal simply does not happen in royal circles, but the trailblazing Diana made it happen. Even estranged from the royal family, Diana was set up for life, and used her position in the public eye - something the once dreaded - to become a humanitarian, working for a variety of charitable causes including helping AIDS patients, raising awareness for land mine removal, and assisting homeless mothers. She also became considerably more stylish, finally. Diana also did her best to raise her children with the dignity that her husband had been denied, trying to give them as normal a life as possible under the circumstances (possibly to make them more human and better rounded than their sheltered and out-of-touch father).

Well, we all know what happened next. While in Paris, she was in a car accident and died rather young. It's a good thing that we all know that already, because interestingly, this show skips that detail: one moment she's alive and happy, and the next we're mourning her death, with no information on the date or method of her untimely demise. Odd detail for a bio to skip over!

Other than fast forwarding through her death (and yet discussing the aftermath in detail), this documentary does a nice job of telling the whole story of Diana's life, before, during, and after her period as a princess. Although the program is clearly biased in Diana's favor, it still attempts to show her as a human being. Her human faults are not precisely lingered upon, but they are acknowledged, usually as justification for her mistakes and failures.


"Diana: Queen of Hearts" is presented in the original television aspect ratio of 1.33:1 (4:3). The production was made for television more than a decade ago, so like the audio track, the video shows a few signs of age and of the technology of the era. Video can be a tad soft at times, and of course some of the vintage footage goes back to the 1970's, and looks it. Overall, the transfer is clean and looks fine considering the limitations of the source material.


The audio is in English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo only. Running time is 88 minutes. The quality is fine overall, but since a lot of the production was based on footage that goes back several decades, there are rough spots. Except for a few moments when Attenborough is attempting to talk over some news footage which partly drowns him out, I didn't find the audio shortcomings to be too distracting; either you're caught up in the history lesson here or you're not.
This film does not include any optional subtitles.


There are no extras on this DVD.


The Film: B Video: B- Audio: B- Extras: F Overall: C-


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