Netflix has gained a reputation over the past two years as the underdog of TV production, hitting us first with Orange is the New Black and going on to sponsor the creation of Better Call Saul. Since the majority of students have access to a Netflix account, the titles Stranger Things, Narcos and Jessica Jones are regular mentions on campus – all notably Netflix originals. Their latest release – The Crown – is no exception to the gossip of Netflix-watchers, and it was only released November 4th. Grappling with a £100 million budget it’s easy to see why fans of the streaming service were eager to see the final product, which was released in its entirety rather than episode-by-episode, a gamble that paid off with Stranger Things in June and again with The Crown.
The props and scenery in the show are just breath taking, from the interior of Buckingham Palace to the silver used for the King’s breakfast. Every minute detail of palace life has been taken into consideration and replicated so well that you would truly believe the show had been filmed in the 1940s. Straight away you are swept into the glamour and grit of palace life, witnessing the wedding of our Queen Elizabeth and Philip, which aesthetically mirrors all too well the fairly recent nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton, although the scene itself was filmed in Ely Cathedral rather than Westminster Abbey.
The series opens with the shocking image of King George leaning over a bathroom sink, coughing uncontrollably into a bloody tissue. Mere minutes later the audience sees the King brush off the incident as a result of the cold weather, establishing the time frame before the King was aware of his lung cancer, but while there were clear symptoms, giving the impression that creators of The Crown are not afraid to cover the more delicate and sober aspects of the monarchy. Indeed, the gradual decline of King George’s health sets the series above other ‘monarch-biopics’ such as The Queen – written by the same genius who has crafted the wonderful story for The Crown – and The King’s Speech, since it brings the characters down to a human level where they joke, flirt and act improperly, juxtaposing the intense emotions running through the series. The show’s overall tone and the presentation of the monarchy are serious, but they grant the characters a dose of humility.
Elizabeth herself, played excellently by Claire Foy, stands her ground as the new monarch and defies the expectations of her doubters with grace, dignity, and strength. However, in the same stroke we see her struggle with the death of her beloved father and tackle the new challenges that face her as queen of an entire country. We sympathise with Elizabeth, who sacrifices so much for her family and her country, as we see her come to the conclusion that she must always choose to either please others or herself, never quite striking the balance correctly, but trying as hard as she can. It gives our Queen Elizabeth, now 90, several dimensions as she is made accessible to the public as a mother, an older sister, a loving daughter, a devoted wife, and, above all, a monarch.
(Image: Vanity Fair)