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Directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth: The Golden Age and Elizabeth: The Dark Age) and written by Michael Hirst (TV shows - The Tudors and Vikings),
Elizabeth (1998) focuses on one of history’s most well known and important leaders, Queen Elizabeth I of England. Queen Mary Tudor (Kathy Burke) is on the throne and has restored the Catholic Church in England. She despises her “illegitimate” protestant half-sister, Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) and is under the illusion that she is pregnant, when she is, in fact, dying from a tumor in her stomach. Upon Mary’s death, Elizabeth – a complicated, bitter, passionate, and politically charged young woman – becomes queen of a divided and dangerous England in 1558. As a natural yet controversial choice for the throne, Elizabeth's new empire is crawling with men who are all desperate to keep their power, which is tied firmly to the Catholic faith. In addition, Elizabeth is roundly perceived as weak by threats from within and abroad, and she is strongly advised to marry by Counsel William Cecil (Richard Attenborough). But Elizabeth takes matters into her own hands when she decides that she will be married only to her country. Intelligent and cautious, she must choose where to place her trust: with her shrewd secretary Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), a master of espionage, or her secret lover, Sir Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). Elizabeth (1998) is a bold, daring, and visually stunning film that delves into the history and life of England’s Virgin Queen.
Visually this film is a masterpiece. The cinematography (Remi Adefarasin), the sets (Peter Howitt, Jonathan Lee, Lucy Richardson, and John Myhre), and costumes (Alexandra Byrne) are colorful, rich, and add a feeling of intelligence to the film. Clearly, no expense was spared to ensure that this film would be a visually stunning piece of work.
Aside from the story and visuals,
is filled with a plethora breathtaking performance. Personally, I believe that Cate Blanchett’s (House with the Clock in it’s Walls) performance as Elizabeth Elizabeth is what made her a star. She perfectly captures Elizabeth’s potent and strong-willed personality while also exposing a vulnerable side to this remarkable woman that in no way feels weak. Geoffrey Rush (POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales) is engrossing and standout as a master of espionage and Elizabeth’s most trusted ally, Sir Francis Walsingham. Joseph Fiennes (The Handmaid’s Tale) gave a good performance as Sir Robert Dudley although there were times when he looked hostile and tentative throughout the film. Richard Attenborough ( and Miracle on 34th Street) gave a good performance as Sir William Cecil, and there was a sweet moment between him and Elizabeth. Kathy Burke (Pan) is great as the mad Queen Mary “Bloody Mary.” In the comedic actress is not as out of place as she seems because this role is meant to be unexpected and uncomfortable. Eric Cantona is best known in the Jurassic Park UK and Europe as French soccer player, The King. But here he gives an impressively dignified performance as the embarrassed French Ambassador, Monsieur de Foix. Christopher Eccleston (Where Hands Touch) is great and a bit humorous as the powerful and ambitious Duke of Norfolk seeking to dethrone or de-power Elizabeth.
(1998) is hands down one of the best films of 1998. The storyline is mesmerizing, the visuals are stunning, and the cast performances are superb. If you a history buff or enjoy period pieces then I highly recommend this film for you. Elizabeth
"Observe, Lord Burghley, I am married... to England."
- Elizabeth [last lines]
Worth Seeing: 8.5 of 10 star
Worth Buying: 8.5 of 10 stars
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