Summation: Lush production highlighting the intrigue, politics and religious conflict during this era
Rating: 5 out of 5
This was certainly not a carefree period for a monarch to reign in England let alone a woman. By breaking with the Catholic Church when the Pope would not grant him a divorce, King Henry VIII had formed the Church of England. This had caused a rift with the Catholic Church. Queen Mary 1, Elizabeth’s half-sister was fiercely Catholic whereas Elizabeth was just as committed religiously but as a Protestant. As such Mary despised Elizabeth and attempted to convert her to Catholicism. Mary’s advisors, chiefly the Duke of Norfolk, attempted to have Elizabeth executed for treason. Mary agreed to her being send to the Tower but relented and instead put her under house arrest. Before she can again be convinced to execute her, Queen Mary 1 dies of ovarian cancer.
Elizabeth is reprieved and is appointed queen. A hesitant, unsure and naïve person, she relies heavy on the sage advice of Sir William Cecil to assist her in this cesspit of court politics. Lord Robert Dudley takes an amorous interest in Elizabeth but he is rebuffed continually.
When Elizabeth succeeded to the thorn, England was bankrupt. Thus she was at the mercy of invaders. Both the King of Spain and a French Prince, the Duke of Anjou, propose marriage. Such marriages were common as they were more binding than a mere non-aggression treaty. But Elizabeth prevaricated. Her heart was set on Lord Robert but this was not to be for he was married. She then also caught the French Prince in a compromising situation.
The die was cast. She bluntly berated Lord Robert and steeled herself against her inner feelings.
With the Pope calling her a heretic, he demanded that she be assassinated. To execute this plot, he sent emissaries to England with money.
Walsingham, a Protestant Advisor, got wind of this betrayal and informed Elizabeth. Implicated in the plot were Lord Robert and the Duke of Norfolk. Elizabeth was devastated. All but Robert were tortured and executed.
Elizabeth is now resolute. She will get married to England and become The Virgin Queen.
There are a number of historical inaccuracies in this movie but unless one is steeped in the history of Elizabeth, none will affect either one’s enjoyment or understanding of Elizabeth.
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth superbly captures the transition of Elizabeth from naïve, carefree youth into the austere, steely Elizabeth that she was transformed into by force of circumstance.
The mood of the period is captured exquisitely. Religious and political intrigue intertwined. The consequence of being in the wrong camp at the wrong time was torture and decapitation in the Tower.
Having pretences of being a costume drama with its stunning period costumes, this movie has more the feel of a Mafia movie where allegiances are primary.
As it should be, the music was unobtrusive but two pieces were inappropriate; firstly Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ was an anachronism but then it was followed by another blunder: Mozart’s Requiem.
After experiencing the vividness of the colours and the intimacy of the scenes, I would highly recommend the Blu-ray version of this movie.
In all aspects, this is a superior production and richly deserves the plaudits that it has received.