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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Spencer

by director Pablo Larraín

We all grew up understanding what a fairytale is, but Diana Spencer changed the paradigm, and the idealised icons that pop culture creates, forever. This is the story of a Princess who decided not to become a Queen, but chose to build her identity by herself. It’s an upside-down fairytale. I’ve always been very surprised by her decision and thought it must have been very hard. That is the heart of the movie. I wanted to explore Diana’s process, as she oscillates between doubt and determination, finally making a bid for freedom, not just for herself but for her children too. It was a decision that would define her legacy: one of honesty and humanity that remains unparalleled and made her so beloved worldwide.

I first started to fully understand the movie we were making when we started working with the kids on set—the actors playing William and Harry. Diana was first and foremost a mother. I am a father myself, and it was heartbreaking to come to the understanding of how much those boys lost when they lost their mother. This is a story about motherhood and is dedicated to my own mother (and to all mothers) who felt so connected to Diana and her story, even though she was thousands of miles away in Chile.

My mother was very interested in pop icons of the 20th century and looked up to these women. Making Jackie made me even more interested in discovering and revealing the intimate personalities of women who changed the face of the 20th century. Both Diana and Jackie built their identities by themselves, not necessarily connected with the men they were married to. Both understood how to use the media of their times to convey certain versions of themselves to the outside world, though they did so in very different ways. While Jackie is a film about memory and grief, Spencer is a film about motherhood and identity.

Kristen Stewart is a miracle of cinema. I had her in mind for this film from the very beginning. When I watch her on-screen she reminds me of some of the great actresses of the '50s and '60s. Kristen has a wonderful mystery about her that she brings to the screen that is fascinating to behold. She can be many things; she can be very mysterious, very fragile, and ultimately very strong as well, which is what we needed. The way she responded to the script and how she approached the character is very beautiful to see. She has created something stunning and intriguing at the same time. She is a force of nature.

I was lucky enough to also work with an extraordinary team behind the camera—from wonderful cinematographer Claire Mathon, to Jacqueline Durran who did the iconic costumes, Johnny Greenwood's haunting and beautiful score, Sebastian Sepulveda's meticulous editing work, and Guy Hendrix Dyas' poetic set design—I couldn't have made this film come to life without their incredible talents and have admired their work for years.

Building the character of Diana, we didn’t want to create a replicated image of her, but use cinema and its tools, like time, space, and silence, to create an internal world that struck the right balance between the mystery and fragility of her character.

Everything our Diana sees is a reflection of her memories, her fears and desires, and maybe even her illusions. These elements take something that is happening inside her and show a vulnerability that is very beautiful. The struggles of trying to find your identity and fitting in are universal; that is why the Diana we do know and her story speak to so many people and continues to speak to people all around the world today.

– Pablo Larraín

Posted October 28, 2021

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