The Princess (2022) review – HBO documentary gives a remarkable glimpse of the subject

By Marc Miller
Published: August 13, 2022


This documentary film is a remarkable glimpse of the relationship between the subject, the media, and their audience.

This review of the HBO documentary film The Princess (2022) will contain spoilers as it contains the subject matter based on historical events. 

The HBO documentary The Princess (2022) will be released on HBO on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at 8 pm ET/PT. It will also be released on their counterpart streaming service, HBO Max. 

If anything, the new HBO documentary film, The Princess, confirms the greatness of Pablo Larrain’s Spencer. This was a fever dream of biography that I labeled as not a “true story” but a fable based on the holiday weekend of cession from the Royal Family. Now, I wonder if Kristen Stewart’s transcendent performance captured that film all too realistically. Here, director Ed Perkins creates a luxurious narrative. He meticulously strings together archival footage of the rise and staying power of the Princess of Wales by being propped up by the people who embraced her. A shift of power that the monarchy lost its iron-clad grip on.

It is a fascinating watch. The film has no narrator, and it is not cinema Verde. Yet, Perkins creates a time capsule of the mindset of the 90s sensationalized television and newspaper coverage. A precursor that eventually led to the cottage industry that social media is today. (I’m guessing Harvey Levin saw what the British tabloids were doing and saw dollar signs in the television screen reflection). Here, we can see not only the relationship the royal family has with the media but media and the people’s view of their role.

From the beginning, it becomes clear that The Princess is a young woman who wants to be in control of her destiny, and her role is to give Prince William children. She is independent yet isolated. The media picks up the scent of a crumbling marriage and focuses on their 15-year age difference. Concerns about her mental health derive from her enduring manipulation. Not to mention the numerous affairs reportedly her husband was having. She felt like a trophy. She lives in a castle equivalent to a zoo. And she let out for photo ops as a showpiece to be put on display.

Ed Perkins, whose film Tell Me Who I Am was an eye-opening glimpse of child abuse, lets the historical video footage and newspaper headlines do the talking. The film starts with a video of the night of her crash. This is a breathtaking moment since we do not realize the significance until we see a car speeding ahead. Everyone had an opinion on the Princess of Wales and wanted a piece. You have unauthorized biographies that toe the line between common sense and fiction. Cameras snap pictures for a glimpse because one photograph could pay for a year’s salary. The media was constant and unrelenting. Even daytime talk shows had guests lined up for years talking about the subject. They were creating a rating bonanza.

However, while the Royal Family is performing some, I cannot even describe it, an infinity-like dance in their dusty threads, our girl is visiting the homeless and changing policy by visiting third world countries ravaged by landmines. She was a threat to the establishment because she was taking away political favor from the Royal Family, which was the only way they could exist in today’s day and age.

You will not find any conspiracy theories about The Princess’s death. I was taken back by how little time was spent going over the crash, and the funeral was left to the credits. Perkins’ documentary is a tale about the price of fame and a woman smart enough to know how to wield its power. This is a remarkable glimpse of the relationship between the subject, the media, and their audience.

What did you think of the HBO documentary film The Princess (2022)? Comment below.

You can watch this documentary film on HBO Max. 

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