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‘The Crown’ Has Had Its Scandals, but There’s Nothing Like Diana

When we first glimpse her, minutes into Season 4 of “The Crown,” Lady Diana Spencer (Emma Corrin) is dressed as a tree and hiding behind a plant, the picture of long-legged innocence in a foliage-festooned leotard.

在《王冠》(The Crown)第四季开播几分钟后,我们第一次看到戴安娜·斯宾塞女爵(艾玛·科林[Emma Corrin]饰),她打扮成了一棵树,躲在一棵植物后面——一个穿着装饰着树叶的紧身连衣裤的长腿天真姑娘形象。

“Sorry, I’m not here,” she says coyly to Prince Charles (Josh O’Connor), the highly eligible heir to the British throne, who has arrived at her family’s estate for a date with her older sister, Sarah.

“对不起,我不在这儿,”她害羞地对查尔斯王子(乔什·奥康纳[Josh O’connor]饰)说。这位英国王位的高顺位继承人是来她的家族庄园和她姐姐莎拉(Sarah)约会的。

“That’s sneaky of her,” Sarah says to Charles afterward. “I told her to leave us alone.”


Here is Diana in her contradictory glory, naïve and conniving, full of charm and full of guile, destined to marry a prince and wreak havoc on a monarchy. Everyone already knows the sorry end to this disastrous love story. But the new season of “The Crown”—which was released on Nov. 15, and not a moment too soon, after all we’ve been through—takes us back to its beginning, when Charles was a self-pitying bachelor, Diana was an unworldly earl’s daughter and the world was thrilled to believe in what seemed like the happiest of fairy tales.


Fans of the long-running royal drama have been waiting excitedly for this season, anticipating the story line they know best: the emergence of Diana as the glamorous, attention-sucking vortex around which the royal family swirled for so many years. Even Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, the royal family’s newest rebels, look wan and dull in comparison to Diana, who was not only “the People’s Princess,” as Prime Minister Tony Blair called her, but an international superstar for the tabloid age.

这部长篇宫廷剧的粉丝们一直在兴奋地等待这一季的播出,期待着他们最熟悉的故事情节:戴安娜的出现——一个迷人、吸引眼球的漩涡,让王室多年来一直围绕着她转。与戴安娜相比,就连哈里王子(Prince Harry)和他的妻子梅根(Megan)——王室最新的反叛者——也显得苍白而乏味。戴安娜不仅是英国前首相托尼·布莱尔(Tony Blair)所说的“人民的王妃”,还是小报时代的国际巨星。

With its intoxicating stew of ingredients — royalty, beauty, adultery, celebrity, media intrigue — the tale of the doomed princess has been one of the most rabidly consumed true-life tales of the past few decades. Even 23 years after her death, Diana is still a cottage industry, her story fueling too-many-to-count books, films, documentaries, musicals, plays, miniseries and even present-day tabloid stories, her sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring (currently displayed on the hand of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William’s wife) instantly recognizable. Now the new season of Netflix’s marquee series, under the watchful eye of writer/showrunner Peter Morgan, has to perform its greatest high-wire act yet: how to make such a familiar story feel fresh and new.

王室、美人、奸情、名人、媒体的阴谋,这些令人陶醉的成分,让这个注定要失败的王妃故事成为了过去几十年里最疯狂的真实生活故事之一。去世23年后,戴安娜仍然是一整个家庭作坊产业:她的故事为众多书籍、电影、纪录片、音乐剧、戏剧、迷你剧,甚至是当今的小报故事提供了素材,她的蓝宝石和钻石订婚戒指(目前在威廉王子的妻子、剑桥公爵夫人凯瑟琳的手上展示着)家喻户晓。如今,在编剧兼出品人彼得·摩根(Peter Morgan)的监制下,网飞(Netflix)这部大热剧集的新一季不得不上演其迄今为止最大胆的高空走钢丝表演:如何让一个如此为人熟知的故事变得新颖。

For the part of Diana, the production cast the unknown Corrin, a 24-year-old recent graduate of Cambridge University, who plays the princess from the ages of 16 to 28. Alert Dianaphiles will notice that Corrin has gotten the princess’s seductive signature gesture — head tilting to the side, eyes glancing coquettishly upward through her bangs — just right. But inhabiting that most-talked-about of women presented challenges of its own.


“It’s very difficult,” Corrin said in an interview. “It’s a lot to take on and a lot of pressure, especially as we get close to when it comes out.”


The series is fiction, she pointed out, and her portrayal of Diana is her own.


“I never went into this thinking I wanted to embody or mimic her,” Corrin said. “I think of her more as a character, and this is my interpretation of her.”


Peter Morgan’s multigenerational saga, a consistently enthralling mix of serious history and frothy gossip, already has spanned more than 30 years. This new season brings us into the 1980s, the era of big hair and puffy dresses, of pleated pants and Conservative government. In Britain it was the decade of Margaret Thatcher, the country’s first female prime minister, played by Gillian Anderson with her manner imperious and her voice full of cardboard.

这部由彼得·摩根撰写的跨越几代人的传奇故事,时间跨度目前已经达到30多年,将严肃历史和浅薄八卦混合,始终能引人入胜。新一季则把我们带到了上世纪80年代,一个属于爆炸头和蓬蓬裙、打褶裤和保守党政府的时代。在英国,这是由玛格丽特·撒切尔(Margaret Thatcher)统治的十年,这位英国首任女首相的傲慢举止和粗粝音色由吉莲·安德森(Gillian Anderson)诠释。

As always, intimate developments in the lives of the Queen and her family are set against the sweep of British politics and the wider forces of history: the Falklands war; the Irish Troubles; Thatcher’s efforts to remake her party and upend the welfare state; the subsequent economic upheaval. As we move closer to the present, these events seem less like distant history and almost like familiar home movies, parts of a collective past shared by many viewers.


Morgan said that he approached the new season in the same way he has all along, but admitted that expectations for it seemed higher.


“I’m slightly more conscious of accuracy as opposed to truth, and I’m leaning into accuracy as much as I can,” he said, speaking by telephone from London.


Luckily the research team had a trove of firsthand material to draw on. The vicissitudes of the royal marriage were aggressively covered by the British tabloid press—often with the tacit help of Diana, although she denied it at the time. In addition to endless newspaper accounts, the production turned to Jonathan Dimbleby’s exhaustive biography of Prince Charles, written with Charles’ help and providing an insight into his difficult relationship with his parents, and Andrew Morton’s explosive biography of Diana, based on hours of confessional tape recordings from the princess and full of juicy details about her marriage.

幸运的是,调研团队有大量的第一手资料可用。王室婚姻的悲欢离合总被英国小报大肆报道——通常是在戴安娜的暗中帮助下,尽管她当时否认了这一点。除了报纸铺天盖地的报道,制片团队还参考了乔纳森·丁布尔比(Jonathan Dimbleby)关于查尔斯王子的详尽传记,这本书是在查尔斯的帮助下完成的,对他与父母之间的矛盾关系进行了深入剖析,以及安德鲁·莫顿(Andrew Morton)极富争议的戴安娜传记,该书是基于王妃长达数小时的自白录音写成的,全是关于她婚姻的劲爆细节。

“In earlier seasons our subjects were not given to this kind of self-reflection, so this was very helpful,” said Annie Sulzberger, the production’s head of research, in an interview from London.

“前几季,我们的人物没有这样的自我反省,所以这类资料很有用,”制片团队负责资料研究的安妮·苏兹伯格(Annie Sulzberger)在伦敦接受采访时说。

The show had a team of advisers with direct knowledge of the events, a change from previous seasons, when “there were fewer people alive we could talk to,” said Oona O’Beirn, a “Crown” producer who worked closely with the research team. For instance, in the first season they had only one surviving source from Churchill’s office. Now there is a plethora of contemporary experts, including Patrick Jephson, a former private secretary to Diana.

该剧有一个对真实事件有直接了解的顾问团队,这与前几季是不同的,那时“我们能够咨询的在世者已经很少,”与调研团队合作紧密的《王冠》制片人乌娜·奥贝恩(Oona O’Beirn)表示。例如,在第一季里,他们只有丘吉尔办公室的一个仍在世的资料来源。如今他们有了一大批当代专家,包括戴安娜的前私人秘书帕特里克·杰弗森(Patrick Jephson)。

“As the show has become more well known, we get approached a lot, and then it’s a case of talking to who we think would be helpful,” O’Beirn said.


As always, they have taken many cinematic liberties. “Crown” watchers in Britain are already debating what is accurate and what has been changed for dramatic purposes. In one episode, for instance, Diana gets a crash course in royal-family protocol — where to walk, where to stand, how to speak in public. In real life, Sulzberger said, the instruction came from two members of the palace staff. But “The Crown” gives the job to Diana’s grandmother, the harsh Lady Fermoy, a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother known for testifying in court against her own daughter, Diana’s mother, during Diana’s parents’ bitter divorce.

和以往一样,他们有很大的影视创作自由。《王冠》的英国观众已经在争论哪里准确,哪里因为戏剧性目的而被改编。例如在其中一集里,戴安娜接受了一个关于王室礼仪的速成课程,学习该在哪里走,该在哪里站,如何在公众场合讲话等等。苏兹伯格说,现实里这些培训是由两名王室工作人员帮她完成的。但《王冠》把这个工作交给了戴安娜的外祖母、苛刻的弗莫伊夫人(Lady Fermoy),她是女王母亲的侍女,因在戴安娜父母痛苦离婚期间出庭指证自己的女儿——即戴安娜的母亲——而知名。

“We had some advice from one of our advisers that Lady Fermoy was more of the kind of taskmaster we were looking for,” O’Beirn said.


The resulting scenes are painful: Diana really does come across as a lamb to the slaughter, a description she once used of herself.


Sulzberger said that, with so many people alive to remember what happened, the show was particularly concerned with plumbing the nuances of the story. That meant acknowledging potential bias even in knowledgeable sources. For instance, accounts sympathetic to Diana at the time stressed her despair over Charles’ infidelity while conveniently eliding her own adulterous adventures. “The Crown” makes it clear that there were two sides to the tale, however, showing Diana promising the Queen that she will give up her lover, James Hewitt, and then going back to him after Charles fails to end his own affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

苏兹伯格说,有那么多人还活着,还记得发生了什么,因此这部剧特别注重挖掘故事的细枝末节。这意味着承认潜在的偏见,哪怕有知情人的信息来源。例如,当时同情戴安娜的描述强调了她对查尔斯的不忠感到绝望,同时也顺便避开了她自己的出轨冒险。《王冠》明确表示这段故事有正反两面,但戴安娜在剧中向女王承诺会放弃情人詹姆斯·休伊特(James Hewitt),但在查尔斯未能结束与卡米拉·帕克-鲍尔斯(Camilla Parker-Bowles)的外遇后,她又回到了他身边。

Both Corrin and O’Connor, who returned this season as Charles (next season he will be replaced by Dominic West and she by Elizabeth Debicki, among other cast changes), said they tried not take sides in the million-dollar question surrounding Charles and Diana’s operatically disastrous marriage: Whose fault was it? “The Crown” gives evidence for both positions, and neither.

科林和本季回归继续饰演查尔斯的奥康纳(在下一季的演员变化中,他将由多米尼克·韦斯特[Dominic West]取代,而她则被伊丽莎白·德比奇[Elizabeth Debicki]替换)表示,对于查尔斯和戴安娜歌剧式的悲剧婚姻里的关键问题——即“到底是谁有错?”,他们尽量不偏袒任何一方。《王冠》对两方观点都提出了证据,但也都有反证。

Audience reactions at early screenings, Morgan said, have been emotional.


“I’m inclined to think, for the viewer, there is now an increased sense of connection,” he said. “People are feeling it far more vividly.”


It all feels like voyeuristic fun, especially in every scene featuring Olivia Colman, who brings a droll, in-on-the-joke archness to the role of Elizabeth. Because the real-life Queen is scrupulously dull and anodyne in public, most of her private conversations are wholly made up — but true to her character, said Morgan, who has made a career of plumbing the personal lives of public figures and who has studied the queen from multiple angles in the past.

这一切都让人感觉像是偷窥的乐趣,尤其是奥莉薇娅·科尔曼(Olivia Colman)的每一场戏,她给伊丽莎白这个角色带来了滑稽、开玩笑式的狡黠气息。因为现实中的女王在公开场合总是表现得那样谨慎乏味和平淡无奇,她的大部分私下对话都是完全虚构的——但却真实地反映了她的性格,曾以挖掘公众人物的私生活为业的摩根从多个角度研究过女王。

As always, we return to Diana, who remains as complicated and unknowable in death as she was in life. Was she the savior of the royal family, dragging a stultified institution—and a nation along with it—into the modern age with her humanity and common touch? Or were her emotional upheavals alarmingly anti-British and rather unhinged, a debasement of centuries of stiff-upper-lip rectitude?


It remains to be seen how the final two seasons of “The Crown,” which is expected to end in the early 2000s, will treat Diana’s legacy. But if you leave this season believing that to be a complex question — as indeed are the relationships between the Queen and her family, the Queen and her government, and the Queen and her country — then Morgan will have done his job. You don’t even have to be a flag-waving royalist to care what “The Crown” reveals about the Windsors and the kingdom over which they preside.


Morgan himself isn’t a particular royal fan, he said: He’s much more interested in his characters’ unique position as both private and public figures, their personal lives inextricably intertwined with the history of their country.


“Once you’ve spent time with these characters,” Morgan said, speaking of his job as author of this ongoing drama, “you don’t pass judgment on them.”

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