Skip to main content

All the royals wanted was a brood mare crossed with a clothes horse.

Unlawful Killing
(2011)

This Mohamed Al Fayed-financed documentary, fronted by the one and only – mercifully – Keith Allen, boasts the honour of being unshown in the UK owing to 87 changes, requested for legal reasons, that the producers refused to make. It’s readily viewable on YouTube, however, where it can be considered for what it does or doesn’t add to the conspiracy conversation surrounding Princess Diana’s death. While it presents examining the inquest as its remit (“It is the inquest of the inquest” as Allen puts it) its net is cast wider than that, and it’s in that capacity that it ultimately ends up undermining itself.


Written by Victor Lewis-Smith and Paul Sparks (of TV Offal, and Gay Daleks fame), presumably with some input from the man holding the purse strings, Keith gets his point across in his patented rough-around-the-edges manner, although any deficiencies on his part are thrown into sharp relief when Piers Morgan is invited to ooze across the screen (“As she used to say to me” he comments of Princess Di at one point). Allen and co are strong on the inquest being pretty hopeless and the evidentiary blackholes of cleaning the crime scene, lack of operating surveillance cameras, the embalming of the body, the error-ridden medical reports, the disparities between repeated police searches, no royals being called to give evidence (despite Di’s note concerning the manner in which she suspected she’d be bumped off by them) and the amount of time it took for the world’s slowest ambulance to reach a nearby hospital (37 minutes to get her into the ambulance, 81 minutes to set off to the hospital, 1 hr 43 minutes before it arrived at the hospital). Most of all, on the commonly held error that the jury put the blame on the paparazzi, which was certainly the way most of the media reported it: in fact, they declared her death an unlawful killing (so murder or manslaughter) by vehicles following (being the white Fiat Uno and motorcycles seen by eye witnesses, which it seems there was no subsequent urgency to trace).


I’m less convinced of the need to obsess about Nicholas Witchall falling asleep in the press room, in order to underline that the BBC, and the press generally, had decided how they were going to report the case before it started. Not because it may not have been true, but because it’s judicious to pick your targets. Likewise Princess Philip and his Nazi connections; yeah, I know Al-Fayed views them as a “bloody racist royal family” and the Duke of Edinburgh self-admittedly is, but if you’re going to make a case for their offing her and Dodi on race grounds you probably ought to go the whole hog and get deep into the bloodline purity angle David Icke is so fond of; as presented here, it feels a little desperate, as does the landmines argument (which is the Di equivalent of JFK wanting to pull out of Nam, but it’s debatable if it’s actually equally so). 


At the end of the YouTube documentary, the poster included an excerpt from an Icke talk, clearly as a counterpoint, in which David puts forward his theory that Mohamed Al-Fayed was also in on her murder (it was clearly the old double bluff to bring the court case), based on his allegedly attending satanic rituals with the Queen at the Chateau des Amerois (Castle of Darkness) in Belgium and persuading Dodi to call off the security detail on the day of the killings (Al-Fayed claims to have issued no such instruction, not in response to Icke, I should stress, although it’s notable that this aspect isn’t broached at all by Allen). Now, sure, it’s feasible Al-Fayed was involved, thought his son would come out unscathed and sought vengeance through the courts when he didn’t, but it requires an additionally elaborate and tenuous set of arguments, irrespective of the royals being lizards or the driver being mind-controlled to hit the thirteenth pillar (once David starts connecting those dots, he just can’t stop). I note he makes no mention of Al-Fayed’s alleged involvement in his summaries of her death in his most recent couple of books. For brevity’s sake?


An interesting doc, then, but not the curtain lifter its legal status might suggest.


Agree? Disagree? Mildly or vehemently? Let me know in the comments below.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

We live in a twilight world.

Tenet (2020)
(SPOILERS) I’ve endured a fair few confusingly-executed action sequences in movies – more than enough, actually – but I don’t think I’ve previously had the odd experience of being on the edge of my seat during one while simultaneously failing to understand its objectives and how those objectives are being attempted. Which happened a few times during Tenet. If I stroll over to the Wiki page and read the plot synopsis, it is fairly explicable (fairly) but as a first dive into this Christopher Nolan film, I frequently found it, if not impenetrable, then most definitely opaque.

She was addicted to Tums for a while.

Marriage Story (2019)
(SPOILERS) I don’t tend to fall heavily for Noah Baumbach fare. He’s undoubtedly a distinctive voice – even if his collaborations with Wes Anderson are the least of that director’s efforts – but his devotion to an exclusive, rarefied New York bubble becomes ever more off-putting with each new project. And ever more identifiable as being a lesser chronicler of the city’s privileged quirks than his now disinherited forbear Woody Allen, who at his peak mastered a balancing act between the insightful, hilarious and self-effacing. Marriage Story finds Baumbach going yet again where Woody went before, this time brushing up against the director’s Ingmar Bergman fixation.

You can’t climb a ladder, no. But you can skip like a goat into a bar.

Juno and the Paycock (1930)
(SPOILERS) Hitchcock’s second sound feature. Such was the lustre of this technological advance that a wordy play was picked. By Sean O’Casey, upon whom Hitchcock based the prophet of doom at the end of The Birds. Juno and the Paycock, set in 1922 during the Irish Civil War, begins as a broad comedy of domestic manners, but by the end has descended into full-blown Greek (or Catholic) tragedy. As such, it’s an uneven but still watchable affair, even if Hitch does nothing to disguise its stage origins.

Anything can happen in Little Storping. Anything at all.

The Avengers 2.22: Murdersville
Brian Clemens' witty take on village life gone bad is one of the highlights of the fifth season. Inspired by Bad Day at Black Rock, one wonders how much Murdersville's premise of unsettling impulses lurking beneath an idyllic surface were set to influence both Straw Dogs and The Wicker Mana few years later (one could also suggest it premeditates the brand of backwoods horrors soon to be found in American cinema from the likes of Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper).

The protocol actually says that most Tersies will say this has to be a dream.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)
(SPOILERS) The Wachowski siblings’ wildly patchy career continues apace. They bespoiled a great thing with The Matrix sequels (I liked the first, not the second), misfired with Speed Racer (bubble-gum visuals aside, hijinks and comedy ain’t their forte) and recently delivered the Marmite Sense8 for Netflix (I was somewhere in between on it). Their only slam-dunk since The Matrix put them on the movie map is Cloud Atlas, and even that’s a case of rising above its limitations (mostly prosthetic-based). Jupiter Ascending, their latest cinema outing and first stab at space opera, elevates their lesser works by default, however. It manages to be tone deaf in all the areas that count, and sadly fetches up at the bottom of their filmography pile.

This is a case where the roundly damning verdicts have sadly been largely on the ball. What’s most baffling about the picture is that, after a reasonably engaging set-up, it determinedly bores the pants off you. I haven’t enco…

James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

Moonraker (1979)
Depending upon your disposition, and quite possibly age, Moonraker is either the Bond film that finally jumped the shark or the one that is most gloriously redolent of Roger Moore’s knowing take on the character. Many Bond aficionados will no doubt utter its name with thinly disguised contempt, just as they will extol with gravity how Timothy Dalton represented a masterful return to the core values of the series. If you regard For Your Eyes Only as a refreshing return to basics after the excesses of the previous two entries, and particularly the space opera grandstanding of this one, it’s probably fair to say you don’t much like Roger Moore’s take on Bond.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991)
(SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

My dear, sweet brother Numsie!

The Golden Child (1986)
Post-Beverly Hills Cop, Eddie Murphy could have filmed himself washing the dishes and it would have been a huge hit. Which might not have been a bad idea, since he chose to make this misconceived stinker.

He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
(SPOILERS) I don’t love Star Trek, but I do love Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. That probably isn’t just me, but a common refrain of many a non-devotee of the series. Although, it used to apply to The Voyage Home (the funny one, with the whales, the Star Trek even the target audience for Three Men and a Baby could enjoy). Unfortunately, its high regard has also become the desperate, self-destructive, song-and-verse, be-all-and-end-all of the overlords of the franchise itself, in whichever iteration, it seems. This is understandable to an extent, as Khan is that rare movie sequel made to transcendent effect on almost every level, and one that stands the test of time every bit as well (better, even) as when it was first unveiled.

I don’t think you will see President Pierce again.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
(SPOILERS) The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and other tall tales of the American frontier is the title of "the book" from which the Coen brothers' latest derives, and so announces itself as fiction up front as heavily as Fargo purported to be based on a true story. In the world of the portmanteau western – has there even been one before? – theme and content aren't really all that distinct from the more familiar horror collection, and as such, these six tales rely on sudden twists or reveals, most of them revolving around death. And inevitably with the anthology, some tall tales are stronger than other tall tales, the former dutifully taking up the slack.