Close up shot of Princess Diana smiling while seated at her kitchen in Kensington Palace in Episode 9 of Season 5 of "The Crown"
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Tv “The Crown” went dark in season 5, but its best scene was blue

“The Crown” went dark in season 5, but its best scene was blue

Close up shot of Princess Diana smiling while seated at her kitchen in Kensington Palace in Episode 9 of Season 5 of "The Crown"

Season 5 of ‘The Crown’ sails into very rough waters and makes no move to avoid the rocks. Even people whose acquaintance with Princess Di begins and ends with the Child cap know that her divorce from Charles followed closely by his death in a car accident. But there is a difference between dramatizing the stasis of the royal family and succumbing to them.

A darkness visually hangs over the fifth season of ‘The Crown’, as Martin Childs’ production design leans against yellow and brown rooms, and the series’ team of cinematographers cast shadows that would not be out of place in the candlelit atmosphere of candle. Victoria”, whether the scenes take place in Windsor Palace or in the center of the Gulf of Naples. Princess Margaret’s (Leslie Manville) mostly sweet, slightly bitter rapprochement with Peter Townsend (Timothy Dalton) also kicks off in a dark, wood-panelled ballroom that seems subtly captured by amber, the light motivated by shielded lamps and crystals that do not seem to catch any reflection.

Which isn’t to say there aren’t also gorgeous highland vistas and horses trotting in the dappled sunlight. This is still “The Crown”. But the show is seemingly less interested in visually highlighting the extravaganzas, big and small, that shape and limit the lives of royalty. The confrontation between Margaret and Elizabeth (Imelda Staunton) at the end of episode 4 takes a sitting room featured throughout the series and darkens its edges almost to charcoal, the gilded pillars and wall-high shelves an indistinguishable blur behind Margaret as she lists the ways her sister has ruined her life.

“The crown”Screenshot/Netflix

It’s an appropriate choice by director May el-Toukhy and cinematographer Rasmus Videbæk to make Buckingham Palace look ruined. But the visual darkness throughout season 5 adds a dragging weight to “The Crown.” The somewhat desaturated look of the show can’t help but affect its tone, which can be heavy even when Peter Morgan isn’t making incredibly grim metaphors.

Episode 9, “Couple 31,” is expected to be this season’s darkest and heaviest as the episode that finally realizes Charles and Diana’s divorce. But a funny thing happens once “The Crown” is freed from fatigue towards the wreck of their marriage: Morgan and director Christian Schwochow can actually add the kind of fictional sequence that makes historical fiction entertaining in the first place.

Charles comes to visit Diana at Kensington Palace after the divorce is finalized, perhaps seeking to put a more noble and amicable seal on the breakup. The two talk, ironic and honest, kinder to each other now that they are both free and Diana offers to cook Charles an omelette that ends up becoming scrambled eggs. This kitchen is arguably the coolest part of Kensington Palace we see on the show: the walls are cool, blue, and open; the scenography is elegant but not so florid. Cinematographer Frank Lamm, accustomed to bending somber British light to a variety of moods, lets the cool, hazy sunlight that enters through the slatted windows disperse over the granite countertops, leaching the air in the scene the same eerily serene clarity that Charles and Diana have at this moment.

Princess Diana and Prince Charles sitting together in Kensington Palace in episode 9, season 5 of "The crown"
“The crown”Screenshot/Netflix

Cleaning the air, however, isn’t always beneficial. Charles and Diana try to hold an autopsy of their marriage, with the keyword prove. Even in complete privacy, Charles can’t stop looking for confirmation, and Diana can’t stop debunking him. The idea of ​​the scene alone is electric, a conversation that absolutely no one would be privy to but which offers Morgan the opportunity to let ‘The Crown’ have the final say on the characters of Diana and Charles and their marriage.

The visual grammar of the sequence is nothing special in itself. The compositions start out wide and sideways, like an intruding servant, moving into over-the-shoulder shots and then into even more intimate close-ups on the actors’ faces as each says both the best and worst things they can about the ‘each other. The sound design is minimal, the stillness of the room places all the attention on the actors’ dialogues; the softness of Debicki’s voice, in particular, carries the outsized force of Diana’s grief and regret.

As soon as Diana and Charles get really real with each other, however, the spell is broken. Charles gets up from the table and Lamm frames Diana against the shutters and wooden bench of the dining room. The coolness and relief of the atmosphere fades, and Charles and Diana look a lot like themselves throughout the season. It’s in this far less forgiving light that Charles shifts all the blame for entering a loveless marriage onto his parents, and Diana tells him he’ll never be popular enough to succeed as monarch (an interesting interpretation to watch now that the UK anthem is officially changed to “God Save The King”).

Princess Diana alone at a table at Kensington Palace in season 5 episode 9 of "The crown"
“The crown”Screenshot/Netflix

Charles storms off, but the scene ends with a wide, more centered shot of Diana highlighting a key piece of Childs’ set. With the inclusion of a few artfully vine-covered ceiling windows, the gracious kitchen reveals itself to be half a glass cage. What gives the episode weight and makes it rank among the best episodes of “The Crown” is the knowledge that it is a cage in which Diana, alone and exposed, is about to die.

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