This is a full-length documentary film of Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation. Beautifully filmed in pin-sharp Technicolour, the film is book-ended by some general views of 1953 Britain followed by formal proclamations of the forthcoming coronation, and then condenses the 8-hour proceedings of the day into something over an hour. We see the coronation procession leave Buckingham Palace and make its way to Westminster Abbey, highlights of the coronation ceremony, and finally the return of the procession.
Visually, this film is sumptuous - the colour is absolutely gorgeous and it is a treat to fully appreciate the colours of the pageantry. The sound is less thrilling - key parts of the ceremony are synched to the contemporaneous sound recording, but all the music is newly recorded. The limited camera positions and editing mean that the presentation is somewhat stodgy and boring by comparison to current standards. And the commentary sounds as if writer Christopher Fry was desperately pursuing a knighthood, it is so pretentious and bombastically sycophantic - the colour is lush, but the narration is lurid. Sir Laurence Olivier had already been knighted 6 years earlier, of course, so he has no excuse for his dreadful delivery of Fry's purplest of prose. He is worse than the hammiest amateur dramatic performance.
Yet despite the criticism, it is wonderful that this record of that day exists - it brings the events to life far better than the more common monochrome TV recording.
Thanks to the Daily Mail for making this remastered version available as a freebie.
Reviewed by bkoganbing10 / 10
God Save The Queen
This event, the coronation of the British monarch happened only three times in
the previous century. One of the British monarchs, Edward VIII had a funny thing
happen to him on the way to his coronation, but that's another subject. The
last time this happened was 1953 because the present monarch is a bit of living
What can you say about A Queen Is Crowned except that you are watching
history unfold. Traditions that date back to almost a thousand years unfold
before your eyes. Makes no difference that the current monarch is a constitutional one or has real ruling power. It's the spectacle that counts.
From the first ride to Westminster Abbey to the coronation ceremony itself and
ending with the royal family's return to Buckingham Palace you don't want to
blink. This current Queen is the glue that holds the British Commonwealth
together by tradition. How long will this tradition be kept, who can say. Some
over across the pond want to dispense with the royals. Then we'd miss something special as we see here, a people truly united in respect and love
for their ruler.
Laurence Olivier's narration is part of, but never intrudes in what you are
watching as all good documentary narrations should be. Color which was not
as often used in Great Britain as in America is well photographed both inside
the Abbey and the streets of London.
Elizabeth II will shortly be 92 the oldest monarch the United Kingdom ever
had and the longest reign. Many more to you old, you are a class act as the role of Queen calls for you to be.
God Save The Queen.
Reviewed by richardchatten7 / 10
To Begin at the Beginning
Sir Laurence ends his narration of this official record of the Coronation with the stirring admonition "May the Queen live forever!!". She didn't of course, but had a jolly good try, and Channel 4 have thoughtfully shown the official record without ad breaks immediately after today's two minute silence.
There had already been a film of George VI's coronation in Dufaycolor in 1937 but 1953 proved a particularly fortuitous moment as it coincided with the final flourish of glorious Technicolor. The process's limitations denied the makers modern luxuries like zooms, so the whole spectacle for the most part looks like the viewer is up in the Gods, but it has the advantage of making tangible the size of the spectacle.
Similarly fortuitous was that it rained that day, which mayn't have been much fun for the participants and spectators but that and the constantly changing light provides visual interest (likewise the unfortunate placement of the camera at a point in the parade when the troops marching down the Mall constantly had to skirt a jutting kerb).