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Saturday, February 27, 2010

"The Queen"

Last night I watched Stephen Frear's unclassifiable film about the week separating the announce of Lady Diana's death, and her public funeral in London.
Unclassifiable because it is NOT a documentary, although it incorporates footage shot at the time, I'm pretty sure. Actors portray Tony Blair, Queen Elizabeth, and the royal family. Diana is there on the footage. In television accounts.
So... it's not fiction, and it IS, at the same time. A UFO film.
I'm posting this for Thai, sweetie, so you can take a crash course in divine right monarchy that will be LESS painful, sawdusty than the Wikipedia entry on divine right monarchy.
Of course, we all know that Great Britain is under the government of a constitutional monarchy, and NOT a divine right one. (The country is NOT a republic.)
But... if you watch this film just right, putting all your neurons into play, you WILL get a glimpse of the underlying structure of divine right monarchy. It... shows through.
The film juxtaposes two very different worlds : the world of the monarchy, structured as it is by the hereditary/aristocratic transmission of political power, represented and incarnated in the physical person of the ruling monarch (ALL OF THOSE WORDS COUNT, DON'T SHIRK, READ WELL...), and the elective transmission of political power, represented and incarnated in the physical person of Prime Minister Tony Blair. What we call "democracy"...
The film's portrayal of these two worlds leaves us with a very important question : to what extent is Britain's constitutional monarchy a JUXTAPOSITION of a divine right based monarchy AND a democratically structured parliament and prime minister ? Both ?
Both worlds, the old and the new, find their raison d'ĂȘtre in the political concept of the people. In different ways.
The Queen has HER idea of public and private, and her relationship with the British people.
Tony Blair has HIS idea of public and private, and WHO/WHAT the British people are.
His idea is more... modern than hers...
The Queen (in the film, of course...) has seriously misjudged WHO/WHAT the British people are, and WHAT THEY EXPECT FROM... her, as a person ? her, as the Queen ? Difficult to say, right ?
And Tony Blair, in the face of a serious POLITICAL crisis which has the potential to destroy the... MONARCHY, is going to force the Queen's hand, moving her to leave her country residence in secluded Balmoral, Scotland to return to London, to make a public statement about Diana's death, and her importance.
The Queen makes a public statement of support of a young woman who single handedly, and probably unwittingly did more than any of her predecessors to undermine and destroy the INSTITUTION of the monarchy...
The Queen grudgingly returns to London, a little bit like... Louis XVI was escorted in his coach to... Paris ? Versailles ? I can't remember.

If you watch this film attentively, you will SEE, in detail, just what Lacan's concept of "symbolic" means.
The Queen is surrounded by a myriad of little rituals, of details and acts that CARACTERIZE the INSTITUTION of the monarchy. They are inseparable from the monarchy.
They... guarantee the perennity, and the transmission of the monarchy AT THE SAME TIME that they corset it, and stifle its creativity, its malleability, its "freedom".
And the Queen (or more importantly, a divine right monarch, I should say...) ?
To what extent is she the incarnation of the ABSOLUTE POWER of the monarchy OR
The more or less willing hostage to its institution, compelled to follow etiquette, and transmit its ethos ?
This political crisis has an important role in modifying the institution of the monarchy, which is NOT SET IN STONE for all eternity, but which continues to evolve... alongside the modern "democracy".
There is a world of difference between an individual and.... the institution that he/she represents.
Even if this difference is becoming less and less apparent in our eyes, in our "democracies".
And.. should this DIFFERENCE disappear, just WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO OUR INSTITUTIONS ??


Thai said...

Nice post. I am not sure you can extrapolate all you are extrapolating (if I read you correctly) but I think I see your point.

... Of course this issue of "aspect" means that I may not be linking this in information space with where you want me to link it.

Debra said...

Define your terms, Thai.
We are not speaking the same language..

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits