Early buzz about director Pablo Larraín’s Spencer predicts that the film’s star, Kristen Stewart, is on the verge of receiving her first-ever Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Princess Diana during the final days of her marriage to Prince Charles.
Stewart is the second actor to play Diana in the span of a year. In November of 2020, fans of The Crown were introduced to Emma Corrin’s Diana Spencer — a role that earned her a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Obviously, there’s room for more than one Diana in the eyes of audiences still fascinated with the story of the late royal. BUT, we did get to see Spencer at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, so we've done a full breakdown of how the two Diana stories stack up.
While the fourth season of The Crown covers Diana’s life from the time she meets Prince Charles to the end of their relationship, Spencer’s storyline picks up mid-marital-mess, with Stewart’s Diana at a place of seemingly irredeemable misery. This stands in stark contrast to the glimmers of hope and possibility still present in The Crown. In Spencer, Diana’s suffering is magnified by the fact that the story is condensed into a single fateful Christmas holiday weekend.
The Crown delivered a teenage Diana full of mischief and unconstrained by rules or etiquette. She was eager to please and to some degree (remember that theatre dance number?) courted the spotlight.
Spencer shows us a Diana that has had her spirit thoroughly crushed by the Firm and the control they exert over her life. At the same time, however, she’s stopped trying to please anyone but herself and her children. Wait for the scene with pearls and pea soup to see just how little she cares for decorum now.
While critics complained that The Crown’s attempt to get the story as close to correct as possible fell short of the mark, the series successfully dramatized events based in reality and was careful not to go too deep into the character’s minds. Larraín went in the opposite direction, admitting fully that his film is imagined or dreamed — apparitions of Anne Boleyn might be your first clue. So yes, while The Crown takes place firmly in reality, Spencer does not.
In The Crown, Emma Corrin donned some of Diana’s more youthful looks: leotards and one-shouldered party dresses. In Spencer, we meet an older, more elegant Diana who’s partial to hats and couture gowns.
Definitely DO pay attention to the points where they wear iconically similar fits.
When it returns in 2022 for season five, The Crown will look to a future we all know is coming for Diana. Elizabeth Debicki will take over the role and the inescapable tragedy that comes with it. Kristen Stewart’s Diana gets to escape into the past. By visiting her childhood home, she regains some part of her she thought had been lost and her view of the possibilities still open to her shifts.
“Here, there is no future,” she says early on in the film to her sons, “and past and present are the same thing.” In Spencer, We get to see her choose her future.
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