on July 16, 2004
Elizabeth is a well acted and entertaining movie, with some very well done performances and is visually stunning. The problem is that the writers decided to change so many events, that it ends up unnecessarily distorting the actual history.
To see a factual, well-acted, and still superb movie of the same era, get the 1971 film "Mary Queen of Scots" with Vanessa Redgrave. Not only does this follow the actual events, but the drama of 2 queens battling for power is so forcibly played that you can watch it over and over
on July 17, 2004
If you're not bothered by historical inaccuracies, then go ahead and check out this movie. It's extremely well-acted for the most part, although Fiennes's Dudley turns milksop in an entirely fictitious turn of events that aligns him with a Catholic plot to replace Elizabeth with Mary, Queen of Scots (whose death in the movie is all wrong, too). Events from decades later are all condensed into what is clearly supposed to be the first year or two of Elizabeth's reign (which begain in 1558): Norfolk didn't rebel until the Northern Rebellion in 1569; Elizabeth wasn't excommunicated until 1570; she didn't even enter the Anjou courtship until 1578; and Mary, Queen of Scots was beheaded in public, not murdered in her bed, and that not until almost thirty years later, in 1587! Furthermore, in 1558 Lord Robert Dudley was not yet Earl of Leicester (he wouldn't be until Elizabeth gave him that title in 1564, and he was NEVER a duke!), and as another reviewer has pointed out, there's certainly more drama and intrigue in his REAL story than the movie allows -- he was rumored to have murdered his wife, Amy Robsart, after all.
I won't go on, but my point is that there is a hell of a lot wrong with the storyline that didn't even need to be wrong. It's still an entertaining movie, as I mentioned before, and Cate Blanchett really does deliver an exceptional performance. But at least some sort of gesture towards a measure of historical accuracy would have been appreciated.
on November 18, 2002
Elizabeth is quite my favorite member of English Royalty, and I had always felt that her life would make for a brilliant movie. So I was terribly excited when this movie came out-- and I cringed and writhed in fury through the whole thing.
Yes, I will grant it is beautiful cinematography, costumes, acting, dramatic tension, etc (hence the 3 stars), HOWEVER! I expected dramatic license, but that they would strip away her brilliance, her independance and self-reliance, everything that made her the fascinating woman we know and respect, was a shock and a severe disappointment.
From the first shot of her floating about flowery fields in wispy clothes, and frolicking with her boyfriend, through the heartbreak! that turns her into a murderous machine, the whole thing was nauseating. The woman in this movie starts out naive, trusting her lover, is disappointed by him, and consequently places her trust in another man as murderous and unscrupulous as the first was gorgeous. "Most lame and impotent" character development.
In reality, Elizabeth had had to save herself from the scaffold from a very early age with only her wits to rely on; she was a skilled diplomat before she ever even knew for certain she would acceed to the throne; she depended on no one, and indeed deliberately played her couselors against each other so that none could gain absolute power over her; she was certainly not indebted for her throne to a series of political assassinations.
This movie is an insult to women, as it blatantly ignores all the strong characteristics of one of the most powerful women in history and reduces her to a sap who must cling to the men in her life to help turn her into steel.
Cate Blanchett was brilliant: it is one of the supreme tragedies of this film that she was wasted on it and she will not be available to play in the better version that I desperately hope someone will take it upon themselves to produce.
on April 23, 2002
In and of itself, as a movie, this film is superb. However, it bears little resemblance to what we know from history. There were three major aspects that struck me most: Firstly, the time frame in which the events of the movie took place. Usually tweaking in this department is permissable in film, but the script squashes together what happened over 30 years into what happened within Elizabeth's twenties. The overall effect is rather damaging to historical merit. Secondly, the portayal of Elizabeth is way off, particularly in how she viewed her rise to power. She was not naive and afraid of her power when she took the throne, but a hardened politician who KNEW her power, and how to use it. She was an extremely intelligent woman, who was fluent in many languages and who had extensive classical learning. And thirdly, her relationship with Robert is rather altered in a major way...she NEVER slept with him, she was a true virgin. There are little things too, like the dress, and the way the French prince conducted himself in front of the queen...that kind of behavior would have NEVER taken place. This can be researched indepth online or through books on the subject, such as Elizabethian biographies.
Usually a lack of accuracy will give me distaste for a film. However, as a movie, Elizabeth is too good. Dark, chilling, and at times rather terrifying, it is a pleasure to the senses and a joy for those who like their minds provoked.
on January 6, 2002
This is a lovely movie, Cate Blanchet's performance as the title character is excellent, as is the rest of the cast. The costumes are spectacular.
As others have noted, this film is entertainment, not history. The writer(s) mixed fact with pure fancy, and compressed many authentic episodes that occured over 40 or so years into the beginning of the reign. Walsingham did not kill Marie de Guise, nor did he oust Cecil as Elizabeth's primary advisor. Robert Dudley was not involved in any murder plot. I won't bore you with the rest of the laundry list.
I think it only fair to point out that in my opinion, despite the inaccuracies, the writer(s) did manage to give a fairly accurate view of some major aspects of Elizabeth I's entire reign. She did use possible marriage as a political tool. And she was damned adept at doing so. Elizabeth did have a more moderate religious policy than either of her two predecessors.
The movie is worth watching. And, if seeing it whets your curiosity, read any of the several popular level biographies of
Elizabeth I. Alison Weir's _The Life of Elizabeth I_ is very well written.
on February 5, 2001
Not being a history buff, I have no idea of this films accuracy, however, though it started out strong, some of the intrigue got a bit confusing.
Cate Blanchett's performance however, was impeccable. She embodied the young Elizabeth suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of controversy that even an elder would find daunting. Her power and vulnerability were well illustrated. You could see her confidence grow with every step and you could see her dilemmas.
What I found odd about the movie was that she seemed surprised about the fact the man she was having a relationship with, was married. Given her position and the prior portion of the relationship, I would think that would not be unknown. Especially, when her relationship continued for a while after she gained the throne. This may have been a clumsy "movie" introduction and not based in fact however. It just did not seem to make sense.
Additionally, I found the intrigue with the Spanish ambassador very hard to follow. I never did figure out, what went on there. Also the handling of the French prince was a joke. It was so one sided. With so many other portrayals as 3 dimensional this character was rather clumsily handled. It seemed out of character with the rest of the movie. It added a light note, but awkwardly.
This movie had so much good acting, but I felt it was not pieced together well. Maybe a more astute follower of history would find this easier. However, reading the other reviews, it seems history only played a small part in this movie.
It could have been better. The acting was great, the way it was pieced together was not.
on August 9, 2000
"Elizabeth" certainly got a lot of attention when it was released in 1998. After finally seeing the movie, I wonder how many of the voices applauding it actually understood what was going on!
The plot (such as it is) simply covers the first few years of Elizabeth I's reign & the political machinations of the great magnates who surrounded her. For someone familiar with Tudor history it is an enjoyable re-creation of a world glimpsed dimly thru the portraits of Hans Holbein & others. For those who did not study their English history, I suspect this film might be incomprehensible. The Dukes, Earls, Bishops & other powerful men who make up Elizabeth's court are not introduced in any way in the film. They wear similar hair cuts, facial hair & clothing so as to make them difficult to identify upon entering a scene. The political motives of those who choose to support the Pope over Church of England (which was different from Protestantism) are not shown, nor is any clarity thrown of Mary de Guise's role. She is simply portrayed as a meddlesome seductress, & the screen writers seem to have confused her with Mary Queen of Scots (her daughter).
Of course, Cate Blanchett is luminous as Elizabeth. She certainly deserves all the accolades that were heaped upon her & it will be hard to ever picture Elizabeth I as looking any other way. Joseph Fiennes as Dudley does not share the resemblance to his historical counterpart, & I find him too modern to be believable. The interiors are dark & gloomy, which is a shame as the design seems to be excellent. It is obvious the director wanted the spotlight on his actors, not his scenery!
Personally, I found the ending ruined the rest of the movie for me. It has no basis in history, & does not even seem logical based upon the script thus far. It is nothing more than a simplistic way to bring a conclusion where none exists. Watch "Elizabeth" for production & acting, you'll probably be lost by the story anyway!
on July 10, 2000
I really liked this movie. However, as some other reviewers have asked: did they really have to rewrite history in order to make it interesting? The answer to that is ABSOLOUTELY NOT! In fact, the real history makes for an even more enjoyable story than the one portrayed in the movie. I can't believe some of the flawed facts that in some parts even degraded the the plot. Perhaps if I didn't know the real history of the young Elizabeth I wouldn't say so, but as it is I can't stand some of the changes made to the actual events when the real events are so fascinating! I think it would have been more interesting to see into the character of the REAL Elizabeth, in my opinion the most fascinating person who ever lived, instead of having to invent a story that was in some places unbelievable. For example, why on Earth would Elizabeth send her "most trusted and loyal advisor" Walsingham to assasinate Marie de Guise when he could be killed? Anyway, Walsingham was NOT a trusted advisor at all in reality. William Cecil probably comes closer to this title than anyone else (he was also a bit of an idiot in the movie, and he wasn't as bad as that in reality, though of course still not as genius as Elizabeth)
HOWEVER, I do not believe that this was a bad movie at all. In itself it was filled with good acting and was an interesting story (even if REALLY boring and diminished when compared to history). I loved Cate's performance regardless, and that of everyone else. When I saw this movie I knew nothing about Elizabeth I at all, and it inspired me to research her, and now I find her fascinating. (I LOVED the movie at first as well, but as I said, when I knew enough of the real story I became increasingly dissapointed) I also think that this movie deserved the academy award. If you are looking for a good movie at any rate, this is a must see. The only reason I gave it only 3 stars was the amount of grevious historical errors that I wish had been amended. A more historical account of Elizabeth's life that is truly excellent (though a bit low- budget)would be Elizabeth R, with the amazing Glenda Jackson.
on February 13, 2000
"A feast for the eyes," "Incredible production and costume design," "Cate Blanchett shines." So true, and yet somehow just not quite enough. Cate Blanchett is wonderful here, the best role I've seen her perform. The scene where she is preparing to speak before Parliament is humorous and believable. However, most of the people I know who've seen this movie haven't understood a third of it, as they knew nothing of Elizabethan history before viewing the film. I did know something of Elizabethan history before viewing the film, and I was the poorer for it, as the glaring historical inaccuracies made it difficult to sit back and enjoy the "feast for the eyes" that the film really is. If you like period dramas, you will enjoy this movie as long as you are willing to take it as just that, a story rather than a history. Geoffrey Rush is great, and some of the minor parts are played very intriguingly. Take this film for your candy, but look elsewhere for the brain food.
on February 4, 2000
The enormous support for this film in the press, Academy and other Awards is a further indication of how starved contemporary movie going audiences are.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the film well enough, but was extremely disappointed nonetheless.
There is little reading anymore and the quality of education is diminishing. It is my expectation that visual media like film and TV should take on substantial roles in providing historical information to those who might otherwise be ignorant.
I knew little of Queen Elizabeth prior to my viewing this film, and knew only minimally more after I had finished. The production design and costuming, while interesting and possibly accurate (who really knows) left me not knowing who was whom and where was where. It is the responsibility of the filmmakers to keep us IN the story, they failed miserably here. Had I an advanced degree in European history perhaps my reaction would be rabid, instead of tepid.
A few directions, some simple titles, narration, or background exposition, would have helped immensely. Somehow I feel the filmmakers believed themselves to be above all that drivel, proud to let us stumble along, continually uncertain as to who was whom, and which side was which. It's the arrogance of Kenneth Branagh-style filmmaking.
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth is good in the same way John Hurt was a good Elephant Man, again, who really knows?
We certainly don't need another Kenneth Branagh, a man who pompously makes costume dramas without regard to any sort of audience involvement, preferring to throw his ideas and images at them, catch if catch can, like a rich man throws pennies to a beggar. Should the success of Elizabeth spurn growth of that type of filmmaking., then I am saddened even more.