The landmark documentary “Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy” is a celebration of the life and work of Diana, Princess of Wales, in the 20th year since her tragic death.
It’s a sensitive subject for a lot of people. The untimely passing of Diana opened a complicated hole in not only the world, but her children’s and friend’s lives. Not only has Diana, Princess of Wales (a name that rolls off the tongue almost instantaneously; no thought required) become a global icon, she’s maintained a cult hero persona in the charity world, too. But the style aside, a new HBO documentary works to peel back a different layer of the mystery of the late Diana: her role as a mother, which the children admit, isn’t spoken about enough.
The documentary, released this past week by HBO Documentary Films, is an elegant and gentle approach to a topic that still regularly appears in tin can magazines and bubblegum tabloids around the world: blaring headlines that subject Diana to conspiracy, endless rumors, and general public scrutiny, the HBO documentary is soothing in its unsensational look at Diana as a mother. It’s often reliant on her two children, who are instantly likable and approachable- who have affinity for their mother that veers toward hesitant reverence than total embrace. They offer a subdued assessment that frames Diana as what she was: a mother.
There is an inherent dryness to the delivery of what it was like being a child of Diana- particularly Harry’s assessment of the clothing that their mother would dress them in- which he felt was a practical joke.
The film explores the marriage of Diana with some archival video content, which introduces her as a romantic with an interest in pageantry. Diana was simple woman who was not familiar with the British family. She ultimately grew up in an environment that was nurturing and caring, which is obviously reflected in her adult life as a mother, though presented here retroactively.
Critically, Diana, Our Mother: Her Life and Legacy begins to explore Diana’s giving and empathetic nature early, noted by her brother, who had noticed Diana’s sensitivity which began as a child. This empathy came from a personal sense of insecurity that became an asset for her in the end. Diana’s influence in a variety of world affairs changed the very dynamic of what women meant in government spaces, symbolic or otherwise.
Not to forget this choice line of Harry:
“She was going to ensure both of us had as normal life as possible, if that meant sneaking us into the cinema or driving through the country lanes with the roof down of her old-school BMW, listening to Enya, think it was… all of that was part of her being a mum.”
Runtime: 65 Minutes. Now available on HBO Now and HBO Go.