; 400x60

click here to see our uploads list
click for new
Film Reviews, Festivale movie section, a reel life
click here for current front page

Festivale online magazine, October issue
Elizabeth movie review

It's somewhat of an irony that the first English-speaking film directed by Shekhar Kapur is, indeed, very English. Set in the 1500s, it's (allegedly) the true story of the reign of Elizabeth I, Queen of England.

Movie Still, Elizabeth, Festival film reviews; elizabeth3.jpg - 12680 Bytes
Heretics being burnt at the stake, Elizabeth film review

Amazon.com logo
Search for:
UK's largest videos store
In Association with Amazon.co.uk
Search For:
My philosophy regarding period dramas is simple: if a production crew is going to bother to dress up in old clothing and film in periodic settings, make it worthwhile. Don't just look the part and frolic around wearing leggings and tights, or - god forbid - we might get another Sense and Sensibility. But thanks to some tightly woven screenplays, there have been times when period dramas can prove blisteringly powerful. Wings of the Dove, for example, developed its setting and characters hand in hand and proved to be an excellent experience. As was The Crucible - an adaptation of the classic play - which reeked of raw energy and almost overwhelming tension. Elizabeth does nothing remarkable, and only a few things wrong.

After the death of Queen Mary (Kathy Burke) the crown is passed along to her sister, Elizabeth (Cate Blancett). England is in a disastrous state - bankrupt, has no army, and is under threat from the French.

Chief advisor Sir William Cecil (Richard Attenborough) urges Elizabeth to marry - either the French Duke of Norfolk (Christopher Eccleston) or her dead sister's husband, King Philip of Spain - to secure the future of England. But Elizabeth is enjoying a steamy romance with her childhood sweet heart Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). She values the opinions of her Master of Spies, Sir Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), even though he is disliked at court. With the responsibility of a nation of aggressive Protestants and Catholics, Elizabeth must steer her country out of a crisis, and exposure those plotting against her.

Michael Hirst, who has been writing screenplays for around fifteen years, penned Elizabeth's script with a messy innocence, of which is often greatly simplistic. A considerable portion of this film is dedicated to the romance between Elizabeth and Dudley, and Hirst makes it clear that the attraction between these two is based on social status - the queen having a jolly time seducing a young man, and vice versa. We are amply told why they are attracted to each other, but given no insight into what they actually feel for each other.

Rush's Walsingham eats up another portion, a dark and enigmatic character who gives a good amount of credibility to the picture. The paradox of his personality is given in one moment when Walsingham explains to a young boy that he has all of his life ahead of him, just before neatly slicing his throat. It's that sort of irony which gives infinite possibilities to his character, but Kapur fails to complete the difficult task of really bringing him to life. Geoffrey Rush is well suited to the role and gives a plausible if not pleasing performance, looking carefully restrained without appearing as lifeless.

Speculation has risen over Cate Blancett's performance as "The Virgin Queen", and Polygram Filmed Entertainment is pouring millions of dollars into promoting her for an Academy Award. She is bound to please many viewers, but for me, she never quite fitted the bill. Blancett has a look of opaqueness and transparency, and plays her part bit by bit, seemingly waiting for her next chance to look opaque and transparent.

Critics are no doubt going to praise Elizabeth for its obvious excellence in visuals and a few very good scenes (balancing some pretty awful ones). But as people after the media screening began consulting on how good they thought it was ('That was brilliant, just brilliant,' I caught one critic saying), I was left cold. I hadn't been able to invest emotionally in the protagonist because I didn't understand her motives… I didn't know where she was coming from, or what she was after. That's strange, since Elizabeth is largely a character study, and if I didn't get a good insight into the main character, it could have only been moderately successful.

Click here to buy films from one of the online stores in Festivale's on-line shopping mall From 0 stars (bomb), to 5 stars (a masterpiece): 2 and half stars
(c) Luke Buckmaster

Due for Australian release: October 22, 1998

See also: Ali's review (with more pictures)
For credits and official site details, click here.
Search Festivale for more

Bookmark and Share

Like us on facebook

Send your comments or review
Check out what's happening in Reel Life

Enter movie, TV show, or person
Provided by Internet Movie Database.
Just the facts:

Title: Elizabeth (1998)
Written by: Michael Hirst
Directed by: Shekhar Kapur
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Liza Chasin   (co-producer), Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward   (co-producer), Alison Owen
Edited by: Jill Bilcock
Director of Photography: Remi Adefarasin
running time:

The Players: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston, Jamie Foreman,Edward Hardwick, James Frain, Emily Mortimer, Kelly MacDonald, Amanda Ryan, Kathy Burke, Terence Rigby, John Gielgud
Official website
For session times of current films, use the cinema listings on the Movie links page. For scheduled release dates, see the coming attractions section.
Bookmark and Share

Like us on facebook

A Reel Life, the Festivale film sectionMovie Reviews IndexClick here to go to our links to movie sitesContact us at Festivale
Movie images, sounds, and video clips are solely owned by their respective companies.
No other uses are permitted without the prior written consent of owner.
Use of the material in violation of the foregoing may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.


Festivale Online Magazine
Celebrate everything!

ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
disclaimers | contact the editor | Festivale revision history

: Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia : copyright © Festivale 1998 All rights reserved
Filed: 26-Oct-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)

Report a bug

Movies by month, coming attractions, Australian movie release datesIndex of movie reviewscontents of current FestivaleA Reel Life movie section