Genius Products // 1998 // 89 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Joel Pearce (Retired) // September 13th, 2007
A special tribute to the life and legacy of a princess.
I was a bit leery of Diana: Queen of Hearts for several reasons. This kind of documentary is often cheap and sloppy, doing little to respect the memory of the people they focus in on. Moreover, it was media attention that both made and destroyed Princess Diana, and I couldn't help wondering whether more media attention is the answer.
These personal questions aside, Diana: Queen of Hearts tries to accomplish a great deal in a very short running time. It compiles a number of interviews with people who were close to the Princess during her life: her hairdresser, friends, and those that she used to work with. In that sense, it is both a biography and an attempt to dig a bit closer into her life and experiences. It came out in 1998, the year after Princess Diana's death. Now the DVD has been released at the tenth anniversary of her death.
All in all, Diana: Queen of Hearts is a step or two above what I expected going in. Much of that quality can be attributed to Richard Attenborough (Shadowlands), who narrates the film and provides a number of interviews. A close friend of Princess Diana, he brings a regality and level of sophistication that isn't expected from this brand of entertainment. He keeps things concise and genuine, careful to talk to people who were genuinely close to Diana and connected to her on a personal level. As an attempt to reconcile Diana's public profile with her true personality, the film does an admirable job.
Of course, personal memories are personal, which means this documentary isn't likely to resonate much with people who care little for Princess Diana. Over and over again, we hear about what a delightful person she was, but there isn't much here that has any intrinsic value. We don't learn anything new and exciting about her, simply pleasant anecdotes that confirm what we've already heard. More than anything, they confirm that she was a person who was able to touch the lives of people, even those she had only met a few times. I respect that they kept the running time down, focusing on the interviews that worked best.
The DVD from Genius Products is perfectly acceptable. The video transfer is presented in its original full-frame aspect ratio, and all of the footage looks as good as possible considering its age. The sound, presented in stereo, is just as clear. It does everything it needs to do. There aren't any extras on the disc.
Princess Diana has been getting a lot of attention again, since it's been ten years since her untimely death. Those that want to find a new way to celebrate her life and accomplishments will find comfort and enjoyment in this documentary. The chance to talk about her was probably very therapeutic for those involved, and their enthusiasm is quite infectious. Chances are, though, that it will simply bore those that don't have an existing emotional connection to the former Princess of Wales.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Genius Products
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Not Rated