If The Crown and the recent movie, Spencer, didn’t offer enough of an insight into the life of the late Princess Diana, prepare yourself for a more factual exploration of her years in the limelight.
A new documentary, The Princess, made by Ed Perkins, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s turned into one of the festival’s big talking points.
The doc includes no interviews or voiceovers, and instead stitches together hundreds of pieces of media footage from Diana’s life, pretty much from the time she became engaged to Charles, the Prince of Wales, in 1981.
The footage, some of which would appear shocking to today’s audiences, includes a newsreader talking of why the 19-year-old Diana was a suitable match for the 32-year-old heir to the British throne, adding her family had “vouched for her virginity.”
Other footage includes how wedding fever swept the UK … although one off-the-ball pundit predicted the paparazzi would no longer be interested in Diana after her wedding day (talk about getting it wrong!).
The documentary traces Diana’s life in the limelight, up until her death in 1997 in a car crash in Paris.
Deadline’s Anna Smith called it “riveting stuff”, concluding, “It’s a testament to Perkins and the team’s skill that this story feels gripping to those who, like me, remember it well. Those less familiar with her tale may find their jaws on the floor.”
Others have been less keen. Kevin Maher in The Times says the film re-treads, “that same achingly familiar Diana story.”
Either way, many who caught it in Sundance have had something to say, leading to it trending on Twitter…
‘The Princess’ provided me with the reason why I didn’t really care for ‘Spencer’. The documentary plainly spells out how the public, press, and the royal institution tormented, and ultimately, killed the princess. No need for sensationalized retelling. #Sundance2022 pic.twitter.com/dHJjhvgLvM
— @ Sundance 2022 (@atomicwick) January 25, 2022
I just got to watch the film The Princess (via Sundance online) tonight and it was incredible. It’s a documentary about Princess Diana using only press footage and no commentary. The human emotion they captured was outstanding. Highly recommend.
— Cassi Peters (@cassidenaep) January 23, 2022
THE PRINCESS: I’m not a big follower of the royal family or Princess Diana, but this is a very good doc about the People’s Princess. The use of archival footage to tell Diana’s story is so well done that I was eating it up. No talking heads or narration was necessary. #Sundance pic.twitter.com/zbYCQWFrDK
— Ian Bulaclac @ #Sundance 2022 (@Ian_Boolocklock) January 23, 2022
The Princess is an impeccably assembled doc, but I regret to say it failed to stir anything in me I had not already felt previously. Diana obviously deserved better from this world, but I don’t feel like I learned anything #ThePrincess #Sundance #Sundance2022 pic.twitter.com/FVc3aCVnK0
— Dillon Gonzales @Sundance (@DillonGonzales2) January 24, 2022
About 5 movies into #Sundance2022 so far, and I think my favorite of the fest at this point is #ThePrincess, Ed Perkins’ archive-only documentary about the life of Princess Diana told through the lens of corporate media and the public’s consumption of it. Really great stuff.
— Jon Negroni ⬄ #Sundance2022 (@JonNegroni) January 22, 2022
— V.P. Smith (@vp_smith) January 21, 2022
Although The Princess doesn’t say anything new, it’s entirely done with archival footage with no commentary. Making it a very raw and at times haunting documentary that definitely does a fantastic job of telling the story Princess Diana from the eyes of the media. #Sundance2022 pic.twitter.com/WJwfXJ11zn
— Jerome! #Sundance2022 (@JeromeM94Movies) January 23, 2022
THE PRINCESS: While Diana was one of the most photographed people in history, it’s amazing how all the pieces are put together here. Definitive story of an icon. #Sundance2022 pic.twitter.com/SSGyFFwetz
— Max Covill (@mhcovill) January 21, 2022
Another Princess Diana project???, you may wonder, but Ed Perkins’ remarkable #Sundance doc THE PRINCESS — no talking heads, no timelines, no charts — is a wonder. It made me feel horrible, and I think that’s the point: https://t.co/fqHkmIkN6h
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) January 21, 2022
Welp, definitely cried at the new Princess Diana documentary (The Princess) at Sundance — I love that it’s all contemporary video and audio footage, none of the talking heads from royal enthusiasts that always seem to dominate these sorts of things
— Audrey Fox (@theaudreyfox) January 21, 2022
The Princess will air on HBO Max later in 2022.