The Crown is a new 10 part series on Netflix depicting the British Monarchy, from the end of King George VI to the beginning of our very own Queen Elizabeth II ruling. I must be honest, the premise of the series did not attract me to it, I didn’t think it a very exciting idea to have a drama based on our living royal family. My motivation for watching the series was Matt Smith (who plays Prince Philip) who I have admired for years, for shallow reasons but mainly his acting of course…
The beginning of the series shows King George VI becoming ill, and it is no spoiler to say he then dies, therefore making Queen Elizabeth II the reigning monarch. The first half of the series is a bit morbid, with most elderly members of the family being killed off one after another. I must say that I did not hold any particular affection for any of the characters. They were not all horrible of course, but each had their many faults, there was not one golden character you sympathise with entirely.
I do however think they portrayed the royal family in a respectful yet truthful manner. There was a likeness between Matt Smith and Prince Philip, as there is with Claire Foy and Queen Elizabeth II, but there is always a risk when playing living people. I think they managed to pull this off as an interpretation, rather than an impersonation, therefore this removes the risk of insult.
Matt Smith gave a very convincing performance I thought, portraying Philip as a sensitive man, struggling to live under the shadow of his powerful wife. He also had some excellent bare bum scenes but I won’t linger on this image.. Moving on, Claire Foy also represents our current Queen as a young, hard working, intelligent lady who is constantly torn between doing the right thing as The Crown, and doing the right thing as a sister, wife and mother. She is not perfect but you do feel sorry for the difficult moral positions she is forced into. I found Winston Churchill’s character (played by John Lithgow) a bit generic and more of a typical impersonation. His role was well orchestrated and his journey was quite emotional, but he was played a bit predictably.
I found the series quite engaging overall, but you have to pay attention to be immersed into the world. If you don’t concentrate then I think it could become quite boring if you dip in and out of the storyline. I did find it slowed down a bit halfway through but then picked up again in time to sustain my interest. It however is not a feel good thing to watch and the ending will leave you far from feeling warm and fuzzy inside. But that is the brutal reality of some true events.
If you are not particularly interested in the history of the British Monarchy, don’t let this put you off, because it is still a good watch. It has educated me more than any other drama has before, but left one mystery. How is Matt Smith’s bum so peachy? I reward this 4/5 stars. ★★★★
First published in Marketplace Magazine, Bourne.