Howls of outrage echoed around the blogosphere last week after word spread of yet another film that aims to trawl through the blighted life of Diana, Princess of Wales.
Britain's Ecosse Films announced plans to shoot Caught in Flight, the saga of the Princess' secret affair with heart surgeon Dr. Hasnat Kahn, and the project was pitched to prospective buyers at the American Film Market in Los Angeles.
That's at least the third Diana project in the works following Renaissance Films' mooted Diana: Closely Guarded Secret and Pathé Films' plans for a biopic which was to have starred Keira Knightley.
All that's in addition to Keith Allen's doco Unlawful Killing, financed by Mohamed Al-Fayed, hardly an impartial source, which caused a stir when it was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and earlier works such as The Murder of Princess Diana, a 2007 Lifetime Television movie.
What upset many people about Caught in Flight was the casting of American Jessica Chastain in the lead role.
“Vulgar, prurient, and cruel. And Jessica Thingummy looks nothing like Diana – except, I admit, her nose,” was a typical reaction in a comment posted on The Guardian's website.
Chastain's casting doesn't bother me and I'm not aware of anyone objecting to Meryl Streep impersonating Margaret Thatcher in the upcoming The Iron Lady or Streep playing Lindy Chamberlain in A Cry of the Dark (aka Evil Angels) or a Holocaust survivor in Sophie's Choice.
But I'd strongly question the choice of German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, who made the wonderful Downfall followed by the dismal flop The Invasion and the luridly melodramatic Five Minutes of Heaven.
Ecosse Films has a solid pedigree as the producer of Wuthering Heights, Nowhere Boy, Charlotte Gray and Mrs. Brown, so why would its executives entrust Hirschbiegel with handling such a sensitive and very British subject?
The screenwriter, Stephen Jeffreys, has only one credit, 2004's The Libertine, which doesn't say much about his qualifications. His script shows her as a “damaged person who stalks the doctor after he ends the affair,” according to Thompson on Hollywood's Liza Foreman, who broke the story.
Diana: Closely Guarded Secret is based on a book by the princess' former bodyguard Ken Wharfe. Last year Evans announced Charlize Theron would play Diana with Ewan McGregor as Wharfe.
“We are intending to make the authentic movie of Diana by using the voices of the people who were there — and Ken Wharfe was right there at her side at the most significant part of her life,” Evans told the Daily Mail.
Since it was announced last October little has been heard of Pathé Films' project which aims to explore the early years of Diana's life, her ill-fated marriage to Charles, their separation and her death in Paris in 1997. Helen Mirren was reportedly in the frame to play Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd.
According to one recent report, Knightley bowed out, if she was ever in.
I'm no monarchist but I agree with one Daily Mail reader, “Lady X,” who commented, “Diana has been dead for 14 years. You would think that would be long enough to stop these AWFUL [sic] "films" from being made. Apparently not. RIP.”