Entertainment Hollywood 01 Dec 2019 The Crown Season 3 r ...

The Crown Season 3 review: Tragic life of British royals

Published Dec 1, 2019, 12:55 am IST
Updated Dec 1, 2019, 12:55 am IST
The Crown Season 3 is an astonishing achievement with some really fine performances.
A still from The Crown
 A still from The Crown

Directed  by  Benjamin  Carow, Christian Schowchow, Jessica Hobbs, Sam Donovon

This is  the  actual game  of thrones. The Crown, now in its third magnificent  season, tells us  how  infuriatingly tragic  and absurd the  life  of  the royalty, the British  royalty if  you must know, seems when seen through the  eyes of a  non-judgmental  camera.


Here is  a televised drama that  fights  shy  of  over-dramatisation. Each episode  creates a self-contained  universe manoeuvred  by  emotions that  seem  to  mock at our incessant  curiosity  about how royalty  lives. The  tone of narration  is as dry as  the Queen’s  letter of condolence to the morning  Irish town  of  Aberfan in one of the episodes.

“Did you weep?”  is the Queen’s  rather  ridiculous question to her  sensible  and  wise husband Prince  Philip (Tobias  Menzies) after he  returns from a first-hand tour of the  unspeakable tragedy.


As  played  by Olivia Colman, Queen Elizabeth 2  is   a woman in a supreme  position of power who cannot  demonstrate her emotions unless on-demand. Forever threatened  by the sheer  bohemianism of  her sister Margaret (who is the Asha  Bhosle to the  Queen’s Lata Mangeshkar) the Queen is  more a nagging enigma than a startling revelation. This could have something to do with Ms Colman’s innate personality. I’ve always  found her conveying an  intellectual  anxiety , a kind of constant bewildered  self-questioning , that  is not quite what the Queen is meant to convey.


I  thought Helena Bonham Carter’s Margaret to be  a  much more curvy character and  accomplished performance, although much of her notorious hedonism seem like gestures  of defiance against a destiny that placed her at No.2 in British royalty (like Asha Bhosle’s  writhing scandalous cabaret songs). Bonham-Carteer nails   the  character.

But  the real revelation of Season 3  is Josh O’Connor. As the slouching, anguished, overshadowed  heir-apparent  Josh confirms he is  the finest young British  actor  we have today.  He brings to  his royal role a  sense  of  looming  tragedy underscored by  a strong sense  of self-preservation.


The  performances  are all so staggeringly  hued, it’s hard to not feel for all of them. The  narrative gives each  of the  occupants at Buckingham Palace  a chance to  emerge  from the  edifying shadows where history has placed them. I specially liked Jason Watkins’ Harold Wilson. Watkins  imbues  the British  prime minister with  a sense of earthy  warmth  to counter the excess of royal stiff-upper-lip service  that he must  negotiate every  time he  visits  the  Queen.


I came  away with my  favourite  moments in Season  3. The one that stands  out is  on Winston Churchill’s death bed where the Queen breaks protocol and gently plants a kiss on  the  dying statesman’s forehead.

 There  is  really nothing  one can  fault in the near-portrait  of  the British royalty, except perhaps  the  coarse caricatural characterisation of  the American president Lyndon  B Johnson. If this  isn’t British  aristocratic  snobbery, then what  is? Is  the royal family really  the way it is  shown in this series? If not, then they ought to be.