Season three of the award-winning historical drama, The Crown, sees the introduction of a brand-new cast to play the Royal Family. Olivia Colman replaces Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, while Tobias Menzies takes over from Matt Smith to play her husband, Prince Philip. The new cast also includes Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret, and Ben Daniels as Lord Snowdon.
The show received praise from critics worldwide for its spectacular casting in Seasons one and two. So naturally, taking the large step of replacing the entire cast was met with surprise, not to mention some disappointment. However, refreshing the cast of the show was the right thing to do to illustrate the passage of time.
It must be said that the show at times does not feel the same as the previous two seasons. But this leads one to wonder if it needs to. This Season is set in a time where changes were rampant; the first-ever Labour Government under Elizabeth II’s regime; the rise of working-class unions and unrest; a deteriorating economy; the Moon Landing in 1969; it was a turbulent time. In this atmosphere of change, it is only right that the monarchy change and adapt as well.
It is now we see why the cast change was vital. Colman’s Queen Elizabeth is not as expressive as Claire Foy’s, but indeed, she is more guarded – more mature. She is fully equipped to take on the challenges that each new day throws at her. She is calm and composed, and some may say devoid of emotion. This is what makes Colman’s portrayal of the Queen the most ‘true to life’. We also see an older, sullener Prince Philip by her side, their relationship now steady.
The focus turns to the Queen’s younger sister and her relationship woes. The wild spirit of Princess Margaret is not quite yet tamed and her and Lord Snowdon’s shaky relationship takes centre stage this Season. Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Daniels play the couple in their own unique styles, which only adds to the drama of it all.
As always, close attention is paid to the set and costume design of this season. Every room, every frame, every scene seems to be gilded, but not overwhelmingly so. Every episode is its own movie, beautifully shot and independent of the other episodes. There is still a central thread that binds the whole season together into a gripping portrayal of a family struggling to cope with the times… ‘for the times, they are a’changing.’
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