Diana: the woman, the myth, the film
A new film taps into our fascination with the late Princess’ legacy, iconic fashion choices & penchant for eastern men
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She’s one of the world’s most beloved royals and led an extraordinary life that continues to ignite public interest.
Di’s appeal never seems to ‘die’ down, as demonstrated by bestselling books, salacious newspapers reports, tabloid headlines and glossy magazine features. Vanity Fair alone published 5 posthumous Diana covers since her death in 1997. Eerie ‘what-if’ reproductions of Diana’s present-day looks include Newsweek’s 2011 ‘Diana at 50’ cover and Israel Zohar’s recent portrait of Diana at 52. Larger than life, she remains an eminently marketable brand that continues to intrigue and sell.
We may morally condemn the voracious curiosity about all things Diana, but it’s hard to resist a peek into her life. Judging from numerous made-for-TV films about the princess over the last three decades, TV producers agree: from naïve celebratory biopics about her wedding to Charles in the 80s, to low-budget melodramas depicting his liaison with Camilla in the 90s, to a series of investigative documentaries since her tragic demise, the world now awaits the first quality feature film on the princess produced for theatrical release.
Starring Brit-Aussie Oscar nominee Naomi Watts, Ecosse Films’ Diana attempts to recreate the last two years of Diana’s life. Originally titled Caught In Flight, the film is based on Diana: Her Last Love, by Kate Snell and 2006 inquest reports on her death. An excerpt from Snell’s foreward: “…the love Diana was seeking…had to include a man, a family, the feeling that she was loved for herself, and that she could maintain the love of the public;”—Granada Media, 2000).
Director Herschbiegel interprets Diana’s relationship with Dr. Hasnat Khan—the pivotal core of the narrative—along with her summer fling with Dodi Al-Fayed. Hasnat is the Pakistani-British NHS cardiac surgeon who, according to popular opinion, never sold her out for fame or riches. He even rejected an offer to act as a script consultant for this film although producer Robert Bernstein tells the Daily Mail that Hasnat met Snell and “allowed her to meet his family and his friends, and it’s through that relationship that we were able to move forward” (a claim that Hasnat vehemently denies). Bernstein also reveals implicit approval from Buckingham Palace, who permitted the crew to film scenes at the Kensington Palace gate and gardens.
At 5’5” and 44 years, Naomi may not be a dead ringer for the 5’10” Diana who died at 36, but her screen interpretation seems poignant and sensitive in the previews of the film. “It’s not just about matching her physically, it’s about getting inside her, getting the interpretation right,” she says. ‘She (Diana) had a very expressive face. She had that sideways smile we all remember, and those big eyes and a strong, athletic walk.’ For the role, Naomi undertook six weeks of voice-coaching, wore a series of wigs, shaved her eyebrows and added a small prosthetic to her nose. Diana’s final two lovers are portrayed by Lost alums; Hasnat is played by Naveen Andrews, a British actor of South Indian origin, and Dodi is played by Cas Anvar, a Canadian actor of Iranian origin.
Diana is due for release on September 20th in theatres across Pakistan by HKC Entertainment, the company that brought Bride and Prejudice and The Reluctant Fundamentalist to our shores.