It’s not a round anniversary. Therefore, the tragic death of British Princess Diana in a traffic accident on August 31, 1997 is not a dominant topic these days. Still, it’s worth tuning in to one of the more unusual films about the life of the Princess of Wales this Wednesday. “The Princess – Lady Diana” by Ed Perkins runs on Wednesday at 8:15 p.m. on 3sat. The 2022 work is the first cinema documentary about Lady Di and premiered at the renowned Sundance Film Festival.

Perkins never met Lady Diana. He was just a little boy when she died in a car in Paris, aged just 36, after a paparazzi chase. The director based the film solely on archive material from the 1980s and 1990s, thus enabling “a very direct, unbiased and personal approach to what is probably the most photographed person of all time. The uncompromising montage paints a surprising and overwhelming picture of a woman that is more topical and more modern than ever”, as the ARD summarized at the time of the first broadcast about a year ago. At the time, the criticism erupted in hymns of praise for the film.

The Oscar-nominated director Perkins (“Tell Me Who I Am”) embarks on a journey through time and lets the audience participate in Lady Diana’s life and legacy. The archive footage shows Diana’s first timid TV appearances alongside Prince Charles, the growing enthusiasm among Britons for the newcomer to the royal family – and then the media hype that increasingly overwhelms her. Diana becomes increasingly driven, even hunted.

“The life and death of Diana Frances Spencer is one of the defining stories of our time,” Perkins said of his film. “She has everything: love, power, betrayal, revenge, heartbreak, tragedy. A modern fairy tale in which the protagonists did not live happily ever after.”

From Perkins’ point of view, the question of what Diana’s story “says about all of us” remains unanswered to this day. According to the director, there is a clear intention behind the exclusive use of archive material: “To focus on ourselves and to ask bigger questions. About our relationship to the monarchy, our relationship to celebrities and, ultimately, our complicity in this story .”