Diana inquest film 'Unlawful Killing' premieres in Cannes

Saturday 14 May 2011 00:00

The eagerly awaited film about the inquest into the death of Princess Diana, "Unlawful Killing" premiered at the Cannes festival on Friday, alleging the "mafia in tiaras" was behind her death.

The film, financed by Mohamed Al Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed, Diana's bolyfriend, died with her in the August 1997 Paris car crash, and directed by comedian Keith Allen, bills itself as an "inquest into the inquest" that ran from 2007-2008.

The longest-running and most expensive inquest in British history returned the verdict from which the film takes its title, and as former British tabloid editor Piers Morgan tells Allen it "raised more questions than it answered."

The same could be said of the film, which launches a full-frontal attack on the British establishment and in particular the "royal" justice system and the monarchy Fayed believes was behind the fatal crash in a Paris road tunnel.

Presenting the film, Allen said that he would "maybe prove to you I'm not a rabid republican or Trotskyite but just a person who's inquisitive."

"The film is a film from my POV (point of view). I think the French call it 'auteur'," he said at a tempestuous press conference where he faced repeated questions as to why the film fails to mention its financing link to Fayed.

The film's main point is that British media failed to understand the verdict itself, which blamed unidentified vehicles following Diana's car but did not blame the paparazzi trailing behind, as the headlines at the time suggested.

The film comes good on its promise to show a picture of a dying Diana, a grainy black and white image of her slumped in the back of the crumpled Mercedes-Benz sedan, with her hair but no facial features visible.

As Allen said, the photo is "in no way as sensational as you think it's going to be."

"I will understand when you come up to me and say I don't know what all the fuss is about," he told the crowded audience of journalists, film buyers and industry professionals in Cannes.

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"I can't really say I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you watch with an open mind," said Allen, whose daughter is the British pop singer Lily Allen.

Fayed employee Richard Wiseman, pretending to be a journalist, attended the inquest on behalf of the film and took notes on what the assembled media were saying rather than following the proceedings.

The resulting quotes from bored journalists are entertaining, but not really surprising or enlightening.

Friends of Diana and Dodi are interviewed, discussing her fears that her estranged husband Prince Charles would arrange an accident in which she would suffer serious injury as well as Dodi's hopes of buying a house in California with Diana and owning a film studio.

Much is made of Prince Philip's childhood in Nazi Germany, and the allegations made against Queen Elizabeth's consort mean the film is unlikely to ever be show in Britain.

A psychologist asserts that Philip is a psychopath and a serial adulterer, although, as with most of its allegations, the film presents no evidence of this.

The film says it contacted many members of the royal family, including Philip, offering them a right to reply. None accepted.

There is emotional footage of Fayed visiting the memorial to his son in his garden in the British countryside, and of him burning the royal warrants that he had to remove from Harrods department store, which he owned, by order.

Fayed says he hopes his son is watching as the wooden emblems of the British establishment burn.

"They wouldn't accept me or my son," Fayed said. "And when he fell in love with Diana, they murdered her."

Allen says Fayed has "opted for truth rather than happiness."

"As more and more people come to understand what the damning inquest verdict really means, we may soon witness what the British establishment fears most: the end of the monarchy," he says as the screen fills with an image of a grimacing queen and the credits roll.

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