Helen Mirren has been getting lots of attention lately for playing the longest monarch in history. She is currently nominated (and will most likely win) for portraying Queen Elizabeth II in "The Queen". I have yet to see it but if she is anything like how she portrayed Queen Elizabeth I, she will blow the competition away. "Elizabeth I" has won almost every award it has been nominated. It is one of the best miniseries I have ever seen. I would recommend seeing "Elizabeth" starring Cate Blanchett before seeing this miniseries. That movie shows show she became queen and her first months reigning. (There's a sequel coming out soon too). This miniseries picks up when Elizabeth is in her 40s and still has not married, thus there is no heir to the throne.
Helen Mirren is just simply excellent in this role. She takes one of the most famous icons in history and brings her to life in the most astounding way. There were many things I didn't know about the queen, such as her near marriage to the prince of France (that was sad) or the way she treated members of her council (that was funny). I learned while watching this movie which I loved. You totally forget that you are watching a movie, you don't see Helen Mirren, you see Queen Elizabeth in her golden age of glory.
Jeremy Irons is simply scrumptious in this movie. He is one of the hottest older actors out there especially with the British accent. woooo ! You can tell that he really loves the queen and she loves him (although I've read that this might not be completely true) and if the situation was different they would have married. He is her best friend and her confidant but not once do they do anything improper. I think that he respected her too much to let it happen. Hugh Dancy was really good too (although I'd personally fancy Jeremy) as Essex. (That's one thing I don't get, about earls and dukes being called by their titled name and not their actual last name). Although it seemed a little weird at times that he'd be attracted to such an older woman. And you felt like you wanted to smack him on the head for being so insolent at times. The supporting cast was excellent. Patrick Malahaide looks just like the pictures of the real Sir Francis Walsingham and Ian "Emperor Palpatine" McDiermand was an wonderful Lord Burghley.
The costumes are absolutely fabulous. Every outfit the queen wears is simply spectacular. They have done an excellent job of reproducing all the dresses shown in the pictures of the queen that one is familiar with. Even though I know how much of a hassle it would be to put on and wear the dresses, I wish I could walk around in the clothes the ladies in waiting wore. The sets are superb. You really get the feeling that you are in 1500s England. I love movies that go into so much detail just to make everything look accurate.
I warn you there are 3 really gory scenes in the movie involving quartering and beheading. Actually one beheading was pretty cool, because you obviously knew it was a fake head. But the quartering, OMG, ughhhhhh. I had to fast forward that part. There is also surprisingly a lot of humor in this movie. I guess we have the impression that everyone was serious all the time during that time period. Just the comments Elizabeth would make as she observed things or to liven up her council made her seem more human.
Simply put, this was an excellent movie. Everything about it was spectacular. It really made the queen more human, giving her a personality and relationships. She must have felt really alone at times and did what she only thought was best. I highly recommend this movie, if you are a history fan, especially an anglophile you will love this movie. Even if you hate history, there is action, romance, comedy, drama, even gore to satisfy every fan. This movie deserves every award it has been given.