Cannes 2011 Review: UNLAWFUL KILLING - Princess Diana's Death Conspiracy Doc

rating: 1.5

Highly publicised (and perhaps vindicated) by the British press in the week leading up to the Cannes Film Festival, comedian/filmmaker/actor Keith Allen's new documentary Unlawful Killing spends the majority of it's running time telling us that a Nazi Prince Phillip - husband to a 'mafia' style Queen of England - plotted to kill the former Princess Diana of Wales and her lover Dodi Fayed in that mysterious Parisian tunnel car crash in late August 1997 that took both their lives, and that of their driver Henri Paul. It's a sensational claim in what is an absurd but nevertheless entertaining and fast-paced film which Allen calls 'the anti-dote to The King's Speech' - a supposedly revealing and insightful argument for why murder most foul was committed by a paranoid Monarchy and how it was 'skilfully' covered up by France and Britain, beginning just minutes after the crash. Could Keith Allen be hanged for making such claims, especially when lawyers have requested 87 changes to the documentary before a t.v. distributor could broadcast it in the U.K. (the film played in the buyers market at Cannes hoping for a U.S. pick-up, and for the rest of Europe as Allen refuses to tinker with his argument)? If not him, maybe some of the talking heads who seem to commit nothing but slander... If by a miracle Unlawful Killing actually does succeed and finds itself a distributor - Allen would be wise to re-cut his documentary and make it a little more coherent and less scattershot. Despite the biggest finger-pointing seemingly being directed at Phillip, Allen almost feels like he does his best to propose as many loony-toon scenario's as possible when he runs out of evidence to say that the Windsors did it (the motive in which being the Royals hated the idea of Diana becoming impregnated by Dodi and marrying a muslim therefore the future king of England would have a muslim half-brother... which Allen is correct in saying her death was convenient for them in that regard, if nothing else) which include; Diana was killed by arms dealers because of her desire to rid the world of land mines. That driver Henri Paul was working for the secret police and purposefully caused the crash under orders and ended his own life for the cause That the press have been involved in a cover-up for years and have neglected telling the real truth for fear of pissing off the Monarchy. Regular two cent opinions are also chucked in by so called 'expert witnesses' who include insiders, close friends of Diana/Dodi and basically anyone who Allen can use to further his opinion including; Piers Morgan (though he has little talking head time, presumably his lengthy sit-down chat with Allen brought up significant twaddle that wasn't used), Diana's alternative therapist Simone Simmons, social columnist and known Monarchy hater Mark Steel (a member of the SWP), psychoanalyst Oliver James who claims Phillips has all the makings of a psychopath like Fred West which seems to have been dervied from one single photograph showing him in the presence of the Nazi's that is repeatedly shown over and over again. There is even someone who claims Prince Phillip got it off with Princess Margaret. Even Allen laughed on screen at that one. The documentary all gets rather silly very quickly. Right at the forefront is Mohammed Al-Fayed, the rich billionaire whose son Dodi died in the aforementioned car crash and it's his money and production company Sphinx Entertainment who made the documentary. He appears regularly in the film and with it's burning of the Harrods Royal Warrants that used to be errect above the Knightsbridge store before the Royals asked him to remove them given Al-Fayed's own beliefs and hatred for them - and with plenty of archive footage of Diana and Dodi shown - it's lasting memory may end up being the sad sight of a man who can buy anything he wants but can't bring his son back from the dead. Unlawful Killing is just as much a portrait of a grieving father who never got the chance for closure he desperately needs to move on with his life, a man who feels let down by this country and who you can't help but feel is desperate to finger-point at anyone and everyone until someone is brought to justice. Though so many years after the fact and with little evidence in this documentary, it's hard to see who that is going to be. Though of course in all the grieving there's still time for Al-Fayed to make a video recorded phone call appearance on the Howard Stern show with a ludicrous giant sized waxwork of himself in the background which comes off as highly comical when he accuses the Monarchy as being 'terrorist racists'. As for Allen, it was surprising to most of us that he would be the one to bring this particular documentary to light but it's clear he has spent months chasing up evidence and parading outside the Royal Justice Courts in London on the back of the billionaire Al-Fayed's bottomless wealth. He will have received a large paycheck for this and the documentary allows him more exposure than the 'work-for-hire' acting gigs he usually takes - plus it allows Allen to further propose his own anarchist hatred against the 'unfettered privilege lifestyle' of the royals at the taxpayer's expense - but all this aside, the documentary should hopefully remind us of two key things; 1) The official court verdict on Diana's death was 'unlawful killing' conducted by the drivers of a few vehicles that surrounded the car where she met her end - citing in particular a White Fiat Uno whose driver flashed his lights and made the car swerve. 2) That nobody has ever been brought to trial for the death and 14 years on, authorities don't seem to be on the hunt to find anyone responsible. In the end, Unlawful Killing does little to answer the questions surrounding the death of Diana or the faults/reasons why a £10 million inquiry didn't bring us any closer to knowing what really happened back in 1997. I understand Al-Fayed/Allen's argument that there is definitely something mysterious about Diana's death but trying to uncover it by accusing ANYONE who might have had a thing against Diana just comes across as desperate. The real downside of the documentary is that it will only fuel the fire of even more crazy global conspiracists than Allen and that Princess Diana, hounded by the press all her adult life and especially her final few years, will never be able to rest in peace. Bring the festival experience home this year on Blu-ray Disc €“ keep up to date with all the latest Blu-ray news at the Blu-ray Disc Reporter.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.