Great subject for a film

PORTRAIT of the Queen is a captivating documentary seen through the eyes of the photographers and lighting artists lucky enough to photograph Elizabeth Windsor throughout her reign. 

The film is a celebration of her life and legacy through the lens of portrait and photography.

Cleverly filmed with only the face seen against a black background, the documentary is narrated by talented actor and beautifully spoken Charles Dance, who quotes the photographer Yousuf Karsh when talking about that special moment “when the revelation if it comes at all, comes in a fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye or brief lifting of the mask that all human beings wear to conceal their most inner selves. That fleeting interval of opportunity, the photographer must act or lose his prize”.

One of the strengths of this documentary is that it gives an insight into some private moments the public have never seen. 

Sharing their stories, photographers who were fortunate enough to capture some of the memorable and private moments during the Queen’s reign describe the quick shot taken in a moment when the Queen was unaware, filtered through the proper portraits which she had to endure.

It seems she was always having to pose which could be a strain, but Her Majesty in true form seemed to take this in her stride as part of her duty. 

The photographers tell us how they set up a particular shot against a landscape; it looks natural, but the ploys they use to get the perfect shot are highly calculated, which is why only the best are invited to show the mosaic of her life.

Actresses Isabella Rossellini and Susan Sarandon talk about meeting the Queen and the relationship between the subject and a good photographer. 

Scattered throughout, members of the public spoke about their feelings for her which adds the human touch.

Some of the photos discussed, which a photographer might consider one of their best, were not shown and that was disappointing. 

My favourites were the few shown with the family by the river and on the bridge, captured by the Queen’s brother-in-law, Lord Snowdon or Anthony Armstrong-Jones. I wanted to see more from him. 

Emma Blau takes us through the third generation, family owned, Camera Press archive where row after row of files are dedicated to the Monarch, a true treasure trove you’d want to browse. 

Accompanied by the music score which compliments the visuals perfectly, this film will be appreciated by Queen Elizabeth II devotees. 

3.5 chickens

by Paula Holland

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