Friday, March 07, 2008

Movie Review: "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"

Being a history major, I love watching historical movies. It's the best way to see everything you've studied come to life. I especially love costume dramas with strong female characters. When I first saw Elizabeth several years ago, I thought it was a brilliant movie and renewed my interest in studying British history. When I heard that a sequel would be coming out I was really excited.

Cate Blanchett is absolutely marvelous in this role. While watching the movie, I stopped seeing her as an actress and only saw Queen Elizabeth I on the screen. She's powerful, strong, funny, witty, weak and vulnerable all at the same time. She totally deserves the Best Actress nomination she received for this film. She's one of the few actors who have been nominated twice for the same role. Also it's interesting to note that she was nominated for playing Bob Dylan in the same year. This just proves how diverse of an actress she is. Clive Owen is dreamboat. If I was queen I would abdicate to marry him, never mind that I would throw my country into turmoil. Just kidding, but he is very smoking in this movie. Geoffrey Rush is back as her adviser Walshingham. Samantha Morton, as Mary Queen of Scots, is excellent in the few scenes that she has.

It was interesting to see how not only the character but the actress herself has grown in the years since the first movie. Blanchett was just starting out in 1998 when Elizabeth first came out. Now she's a huge name in Hollywood with 5 Academy Award nominations and a win under her belt. So to see her play Elizabeth as a carefree princess to a mature monarch is actually true to her own career growing over the years. There is a lot of talk of the war between Spain and England and between Catholicism and Protestants. It's difficult to see how the two countries would justify their actions based on their faith because many times people would do things that are clearly not at all what God would have wanted. But it is an important part of European history that must be told and it is done in very dramatic fashion.

It was hard to watch this movie and on think of the spectular HBO miniseries that came out last year Elizabeth I starring Helen Mirren. One can easily see a huge movie of Queen Elizabeth with Blanchett playing her in her younger days, with Mirren taking the role in her later life. Something of note is that that the story of this whole movie took maybe about 45 minutes to tell in the miniseries. I must say I do give the edge to the miniseries, but that's because it's longer and can give more detail. Plus Jeremy Iron + Hugh Dancy > Clive Owen.

Of course, as most movies do, there are many liberties the filmmakers took to make the movie more dramatic. Since there were a lot of changes in the original movie such as Dudley betraying her, they had to keep going in this movie with that theory. Therefore the Earl of Leicester is not present at all in this movie or even mentioned, even though in real life he was a close confidant of the queen. Philip's daughter is portrayed as a little girl in the movie where as in real life she was in her twenties. Also while Elizabeth did address her army before the battle, it is unlikely she would have been wearing full armor. So this is why you should never base a school report on a movie instead of doing the research yourself. Movies are made to entertain not to serve as a substitute for actual learning.

This was one of my favorite historical dramas of the year, and I think it deserved both Oscar nominations. The win for Best Costume is highly deserved as I adored the rich costumes worn in the movie. There's talk of a third movie, and if so I'll be looking forward to it as well but only if Blanchett will return as queen. Elizabeth The Golden Age is rated PG 13 with violence and some sexuality, therefore suitable for older teens and above.


  1. Thanks for the review. I still haven't gotten around to seeing this movie...but I dearly love Clive Owen so it's a must-see!

  2. Love Cate and of course she is a good Aussie girl - LOL!!! Great review, Deb :)


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