Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new film shows how good the crown is
While Lifetime isn’t known for its excellent writing, Harry & Meghan: Escape from the Palace makes The Crown’s excellent writing and research shine in comparison.
With the attention the British royals are receiving, there is a clear audience for the Lifetime film Harry and Meghan: escape from the palace, but all this rushed piece accomplishes is showcasing other works like The crown. The crown is a big budget and well-received Netflix series. It already has four seasons streaming, with two more scheduled. The series has so far covered six decades of content through the lens of the Royal Family. The focus is not only on the drama within the family, but also on the issues facing Britain and the world during this time.
By comparison, the plot of Harry and Meghan: escape from the palace is thin. The story begins days after the first of their son Archie and immediately comments on the racism they faced. It follows the couple to the infamous Oprah interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, in which the couple leaked numerous previously private dramas with the royal family. They revealed Meghan felt ‘silenced’ (something the film says directly to Duchess of Cambridge Kate). Those who watched will remember Prince Harry discussing his strained relationship with his brother, Prince William, as well as the racist comments about their child’s skin color the couple faced.
This interview seems to be the crux of the film’s research, and it shows. The crown, during this time, effortlessly blends the issues the family faces publicly with those they face in private. They add dialogue and emotion to fill in the gaps, but all of this fiction looks realistic based on what is known historically from multiple sources. Lifetime tries to make comparisons between Meghan’s experiences and the grim tragedy of Princess Diana without sharing too much the point of view of the rest of the family. Instead, they chose to go from a gossip column story to a gossip column story. Much of the storytelling, like the scenes from Trooping the Colors, is done in the style of tabloid journalism. In general, Escape from the palace proves how much The crown is, even if the show dramatizes the events.
The characters in the Lifetime movie fall flat. Prince William is cold, with no sympathy for Meghan. He clings to trivial things like Archie not being a “royal name” and refuses to let his children see their cousin. Kate is portrayed as a wife forced into submission. She can be seen almost sympathizing with Meghan but backs off when her husband disapproves. He even paints his mother, Diana as a royal villain in comments made to his wife, Duchess Kate. This disturbing family dynamic is more a matter of gossip than research. When The crown deals with complex relationships, both parties always have the right to speak. For example, the story of the love triangle between Princess Diana, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles has time to grow. This story takes place over two seasons (so far), allowing for nuances in their interpretation. Each character has time to tell their side in enough detail to be understood.
One of the fundamentals of good writing is “show, don’t tell.” Escape from the palace chooses to awkwardly drop names, places and events, bombarding his audience with information in an awkward way. While Netflix The crown leaves out a few true stories, he only does it for brevity, showing his audience what they need to understand the story. Attention to detail The crown also misses Escape from the palace. The acting and budget are clearly much lower. In one scene, Prince Harry and Meghan stand on a balcony, clearly in front of a green screen with no lighting correction. This inattention never occurs in The crown, which earned him several Emmys.
It’s not easy to write about a group of people known to keep their privacy private, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. The crown informs as much as it entertains, hoping the audience will learn a bit of history while enjoying its show. Harry and Meghan: escape from the palace is as salacious as the columns of gossip from which it is inspired. The focus is on how you feel, not what happened.
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