Naveen Andrews and Naomi Watts in the doomed 2013 biopic Diana
Naveen Andrews and Naomi Watts in the doomed 2013 biopic Diana Credit: Entertainment One

In 2017, on the 20th anniversary of her death, broadcasters the world over exhumed the Princess Diana archives for new footage, new angles on which to explore her story, and turned to any old tabloid ghoul willing to still talk about her三级成人视频. But while television provides a lengthy menu of Diana-themed hysteria, there's very little to choose from on the big screen. For as famous as Diana remains, and how dramatically compelling her life was, she remains a strangely absent from cinemas.

That may soon change, thanks to the announcement of a new biopic from Jackie director Pablo Larraín; Spencer, as it is currently known, will star Kristen Stewart三级成人视频 as the People's Princess.

But it’s been seven years since cinemagoers were last treated to a Diana movie, with the arrival of a doomed biopic starring Naomi Watts that painted the late Princess as a vaguely deranged Barbara Cartland caricature. Prior to that, however, Diana’s life story was mostly confined to surreal cameos in satirical comedy films, or the kind of dodgy TV movie that your grandmother watches on weekday afternoons on Channel 5.

Diana’s life was fictionally recreated almost as soon as she came to prominence in the public eye, with Catherine Oxenberg, a real-life member of the Serbian royal family, portraying the Princess in 1982’s The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana. A treacly ode to what was then considered a fairytale romance, it also has a thin sliver of camp running through it, particularly in the casting of Legally Blonde’s Holland Taylor as Diana’s mother, and Olivia De Havilland as the Queen Mum.

Princess Diana in 1997, shortly before her untimely death Credit: JAMAL A. WILSON/AFP/Getty Images

As Diana’s marriage began to fall apart, however, that hint of camp in her TV dramatisations became more pronounced. And that was even before her run of soap opera-style mini-scandals, from the leaked audio recordings and the affairs, to the lawsuits over pink-spandex gym photographs and the time a trip with her sons to see the Harrison Ford/Brad Pitt IRA thriller The Devil’s Own resulted in international uproar.

That US TV networks were so drawn to Diana should come as no surprise, her story so often resembling the salacious fictional serials that captured millions of American eyeballs every week. Without their own Royal Family, Americans had to make do with the likes of Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington or Amanda Woodward of Melrose Place – soap opera vixens as strong-willed as they were glamorous, ruffling feathers by their insertion into worlds of rulebooks and protocol. That Diana struck a real-life parallel goes without saying.

三级成人视频The Nineties TV movie depictions of Diana attempted to straddle both extremes of the Diana persona – the saintly wronged woman trying to make good of a bad situation, and the magnet for tabloid drama that had all but consumed her around the time of the infamous Martin Bashir interview.

A decade after The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, Catherine Oxenberg returned for Charles and Diana: Unhappily Ever After, a hilarious about-face that decided it was now okay to address the royal elephant in the room when it came to the pair’s marriage. This was followed by 1996’s Princess in Love, a soapy story of royal infidelity inspired by an early-Nineties memoir by James Hewitt, with enough hands clutching during love-making to rival your average Mills & Boon paperback.

三级成人视频It was 1998’s Diana: A Tribute that seemed to mark a sea change in depictions of the Princess, however. Like its TV movie predecessors, Diana: A Tribute is a hotbed of bad acting and vaguely offensive conjecture (a scene in which Mother Teresa gives Diana parenting advice is particularly funny), but Diana’s real-life death granted it a level of ugliness that had previously eluded earlier films.

1998's Diana: A Tribute to the People's Princess

By the time the movie builds to a final black-and-white pause as Dodi Fayed cradles a terrified Diana in his arms as their vehicle is sped through Paris, resembling a cliffhanger ending to an episode of Diagnosis Murder, the “dramatised Diana” genre had become unquestionably grim.

In the aftermath of her death, Diana had been sanctified by a grieving public, the supposed indiscretions that fueled Nineties tabloids only helping in her transformation into a figure of needlessly bullied victimhood. In the process, the films chronicling her private life came off like more pointlessly mean intrusions on a woman whose inherent ability to captivate had tragically led to her early demise.

But that re-contextualising couldn’t help but also round off Diana’s edges, and diminish the aspects to her character that could be slightly ruthless or mercenary. Diana was by all accounts a woman who wore many different faces and, according to a comprehensive profile in 1997, had long struggled with her own identity.

三级成人视频The piece paints a portrait of a woman so obsessed with living up to the media profile she had partly cultivated for herself that she had begun to struggle with who she truly was. Hairstyles were changed and wardrobes were tossed out to symbolise a sense of outward maturity, but one that wasn’t being replicated internally. Desperately searching for help to alleviate her loneliness, she had turned to energy healers who helped rid her home of supposed ghosts. 

三级成人视频Others have often said she had been driven to the point of paranoia by fears of press intrusion and the belief that her phone had been bugged, while jealousies over figures like Tiggy Legge-Bourke, nanny to William and Harry, resulted in several incidents in which she that is believed to have never happened.

“Her dark side was that of a wounded trapped animal,” noted her friend Rosa Monckton, “and her bright side was that of a luminous being.”

Naomi Watts puts on her best Diana face in her 2013 flop Credit: AP Photo/Entertainment One Films

Diana, the first major film inspired by the Princess to actually hit cinemas, was very much a product of the airbrushing so prevalent in light of her death. Revolving around her relationship with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Khan and seemingly inspired by the one statement Khan has ever given about his time with the Princess, Diana is portrayed throughout as a hysterical blank – a flighty, vacuous flibbertigibbet who loved Casualty and struggled to make pasta.

Watts, too, is almost deliriously terrible; self-conscious and mannered and looking as if she’s constantly on the hunt for the nearest exit. She’d later refer to the film as a “sinking ship.”

Diana was eviscerated by critics upon its release, The Telegraph’s Tim Robey calling it a “special class of awful,” slamming it as, ahem, “car crash cinema” and that “Wesley Snipes in a blonde wig would have been more convincing.”

But Diana was also somewhat doomed, with a script that feels uncomfortable with itself from the get-go. Neither particularly probing of Diana’s character and personal life, nor judgmental enough to do more than skim the surface of her manipulations of the press, the film is ultimately a thin soup of nothingness – presumably so focused on Diana’s, by all accounts, earnest relationship with Khan out of fear of touching upon anything remotely ambiguous. And that’s incredibly disappointing.

Oddly, the best dramatised depiction of the late Princess has been a film in which she doesn’t actually appear. 2006’s The Queen, starring an Oscar-winning Helen Mirren三级成人视频, depicts the immediate aftermath of Diana’s death, contrasting the incredible grief of the British public with the cold and misjudged protocol enacted by the Royal family at the time.

Helen Mirren in 2006's The Queen Credit: AP

That clashing of ethics, the cementing of Prime Minister Tony Blair as a centrist figurehead at a time of public devastation, and the Queen’s emotional transformation over the course of the film all speak to the Diana effect far greater than any of her ham-fisted biopics ever have.

三级成人视频But it also doesn’t mean Diana doesn’t deserve a film of her own, one with the daring to not only depict her magnetism and kindness of spirit, but also her shrewd awareness of how to operate in the public eye, her reluctance to play nice with her royal relations, and the psychological toll her fame took on her.

三级成人视频It’ll be a lightning rod for criticism and debate, of course, as is every project that positions Diana at its centre. But whether it’ll occur in our lifetime or not, it’s a risk worth taking.

Has there ever been a good movie about Princess Diana? Share your view in the comments section below