It’s difficult for me to start this review today, because I know that my words will not do justice to the show. But I feel like it’s necessary for me to write anyway because failure to write about this show is akin to letting it down as well. So let’s get on with it.
The Crown is a Netflix series that premiered November 2016 and consists of 10 hour-long episodes, at least in the first season. It purports to tell the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s succession to the Crown in 1952 and also details some of the politics surrounding the early years of her reign. Simply put, it is a biography of sorts. As such, it showcases events like the abdication crisis of 1936, the death of George VI, PM Churchill’s resignation, Princess Margaret-Peter Townsend scandal, and the marriage of the Queen and Prince Philip (and the ensuing marital strifes).
In terms of reviewing, I’m going to break it down and not write a whole lot. There is way too much for me to unpack in each individual episode so attempting to analyze the entire series in a single post is absurd. As such, I’ll touch upon a few things.
Firstly, in terms of cinamatography, it’s top-notch. As some of you may know, I’m a really, really visual person. So this means, that not only am I attracted to and enthralled by lavish attention to details in depictions, but I’m also very particular about it as well. To my delight, the series excelled in it. Each scene was laid out in a really great way and directed very well as well. And the accuracy in the clothing worn by the various members of the Royal Family was surreal. As a history buff, I have poured over photographs showcasing the Queen’s early years. Hence, I got really, really excited every time I recognized some of the Queen’s outfits and just how much detail was put into each one. For example, her wedding day look has been matched by the creators, right down to the hairstyle.
Which also brings me to the actors. Queen Elizabeth II was portrayed by Claire Foy who did a tremendous job. Throughout the show, the Crown is referred to as a burden, and Foy did a magnificent job showing how difficult it was to balance being the Crown and being a person, i.e. mother, wife, sister. As the show pointed out, the monarch is not supposed to be an opinionated, loud, entertaining person, it is merely a symbol, an impartial figurehead who unites the people. Foy also has really great chemistry with Matt Smith who plays Prince Philip. There are moments where the two characters don’t even say anything but you can still feel the love or tension between them. Matt also did a phenomenal job playing Prince Philip as the resentful consort. On that note, I really appreciated how the writers did not shy away from showing him as the racist and asshole person he is. Similarly, the supporting Royal Family cast acts really well as well. However, the stand-out performance, in my opinion, was John Lithgow as Sir Winston Churchill. The first time Lithgow appeared on screen, I got chills because it felt like I was really seeing Churchill in the flesh. Which is also quite a feat considering the fact that Lithgow is an American! In the role, he disappears and only Churchill remains; a fabulous performance!
On that note, I think I should also talk about the writer’s, or rather writer, for a second. The show is written by Peter Morgan who also wrote the award-winning film, The Queen. Morgan is a fantastic writer and the subtlety he instills in each episode the the various dialogues is a treat to watch. And the show doesn’t just address the history of the Queen and her family. It also depicts the history of England itself and the political struggles the political parties face, along with the Queen. The script, in my opinion, plays quite a large role in how the show comes across. In other words, the strong script elevates the show and the actors.
And finally, the soundtrack for this show is amazing. I cannot get enough of the main title/ duck shoot song. I’m not quite sure who composed the latter, either Hans Zimmer or Rupert Gregson-Williams, but either way, it’s phenomenal and so versatile. For example, it was used to highlight the changes that were coming in Elizabeth’s life and her steps toward embracing them (i.e. becoming Queen eventually). Yet, the song was also effectively used to highlight the chaos that came after King George VI’s death. Just wonderfully amazing really.
I really enjoyed watching and highly recommend the show. Plus, season 2 has already been confirmed!
My rating: Definitely watch it if you’re a history (and political) buff, anglophile or Royal Family enthusiast!