Princess Diana biopic Spencer is 'like a horror film', says score composer Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead

A new biopic about the life of Diana, Princess of Wales, will use “paranoia and oppression” similar to a horror film, according to the film’s composer.

Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood says Spencer is “not as easy a viewing experience” as Netflix’s The Crown.

Chilean director Pablo Larrain’s film is set over a weekend in the early 1990s when Diana, played by Kristen Stewart, joined the royal family at the Queen’s estate in Sandringham for Christmas.

It imagines what could have happened in those few days when her marriage to the Prince of Wales failed but she is still obliged to attend the family celebrations.

Greenwood, 49, has previously provided the soundtracks for films such as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread and Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here.

He said he used an orchestra of jazz and baroque musicians to create “a measure of chaos” in Spencer’s score.

Speaking to the PA news agency, he said he was drawn to the project because it was “darker and stranger than most films about the royals seem”.

He added, “I think Pablo is careful to call it a fable based on a real princess.

“What will people think? It’s not The Crown. There is a lot of claustrophobic handheld camera action that follows it and one immediately feels that this is not as easy a viewing experience as something like The Crown. It just does something different. “

Greenwood said he first looked at the music Diana liked but decided it was a “dead end” when she took him to see artists like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Dire Straits.

He said: “But then you realize that the music didn’t have to be a part of her, she just had to describe this situation and describe the oppression she felt in that palace in Sandringham during those three days.

“It’s a bit like a horror movie in a way. There are all these sinister servants lounging under stairs and there is this feeling of paranoia and oppression. The music should reinforce that.”

To record the score, Greenwood used a jazz band and a baroque orchestra at the same time.

“It was just about bringing some degree of chaos into the music to accompany the fairly staid and traditional framework of baroque music, which hopefully would reflect what royal life was like for them,” he said.

“I don’t think there was much freedom in her life.”

Oxford-born Greenwood also praised Stewart for her performance as Diana.

“She does it amazingly well,” he said.

“I think it’s doubly difficult because when you see Diana’s footage, an element feels like a performance.

“She’s pretty mannered in the way she spoke, but she’s absolutely convincing. She won me over.”

Other cast members in the film, written by Steven Knight, creator of Peaky Blinders, include Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins and Sean Harris.

The Spencer soundtrack will be released on the Mercury KX record label.

The film premieres on September 3rd at the Venice Film Festival and is slated to hit theaters on November 5th.

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