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It’s a Man’s World
A movie review of Elizabeth I

I am proud to say I have never fallen asleep while watching a movie, that is until I watched Elizabeth I. Usually the anticipation of knowing how the story ends, is enough to keep me wide awake however, this movie falls short. Filmed in 1998 by Polygram Gramercy Pictures, directed by Shekhar Kapur, starring Cate Blanchette as the Queen along with Joseph Fiennes (Robert Dudley), Geoffrey Rush (Sir Walsingham) and Richard Attenborough (Sir Cecil), the 2 hour Academy Award winning film failed to interest me and I am not hard to please.

The movie set in the 16th century, starts with Protestants being brought to stake under the orders of Queen Mary. It is obvious the main theme is the debate between the Catholics and the Protestants. Not too long after, Elizabeth, a Protestant herself, is locked in a tower for being a suspect of treachery, attempting to defeat the catholic religion. The portrayal of Elizabeth as a religion moderate makes it hard to understand her enemy’s motive for locking her up. She was later let go once her sister, Queen Mary, was diagnosed with cancer. Because she was her father’s illegitimate child, daughter of King Henry and Anne Boleyn, Mary was hesitant to let Elizabeth take the thrown. Before she could make her decision, she died and Elizabeth, at 25 years old, was forced to take control. While developing her inner woman and learning what it takes to be Queen, Elizabeth battles off the Queen of Scotland, turns down numerous marriage proposals and learns very well who in her kingdom is trustworthy as well as who is not.
She relied on the old wise owl, Sir William Cecil quite a bit, and at first he makes most decisions. It wasn’t until after the war-gone bad did she force him to retire and when he states, “You’re only a woman,” gives Elizabeth even more incentive to prove all those doubting her, wrong. The relationship between Elizabeth and Sir Robert Dudley adds romantic drama in addition to a relatable subplot. On the other hand, the relationship between Elizabeth and Sir Walsingham, her spy, is not properly displayed. In the end, we are notified he became her most loyal friend and worker, how he gained this position is unknown, for he played a little role in the movie. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the view on feminism; it is powerful for women to watch a young lady try to succeed in a man’s world. Elizabeth is persuasive, humorous and independent. I now not only admire Queen Elizabeth I but also Cate Blanchette for portraying her in such an old-fashioned yet modern way so viewers were able to empathize with her throughout her journey.

As far as the work of the crew, the costumes were extravagant and the outside scenery was beautiful, probably the only part that captured my attention. The scenes inside the castle were very dark and impossible to watch without squinting. One or two scenes where the action is indefinable is fine, but there were too many to simply just shrug it off. Also it happened frequently that I was not able to understand what the characters were saying and in result, I found myself confused with the story. Normally during movies such as this, I turn on the subtitles to be able to properly understand the story, for it is historical and the events are of great importance. Unfortunately, the only choices of subtitles were either in English or Spanish. Additionally, the scenes with poor lighting also included inferior sound, loosing not only my interest but I’m sure many others too. Did the crew not revise this movie and see that the result was not agreeable for the eyes or the ears? Unless you are a history buff or a big fan of Queen Elizabeth I (which I’m sure most are now long gone, therefore defeating the purpose of the film) this movie would be a waste of your time.

The film was more convincing and engrossing when focusing on Elizabeth’s transformation as a woman and as a queen, sadly not the entire movie was fixed on her revolution. Overall it was a dark, brooding, depressing and bloody movie filled with historical mistakes as well as confusion. To be able to follow the story and understand what is happening, I suggest you do some research beforehand. If you enjoy the kinds of costume dramas, then you will most likely take pleasure in this feature, much more than I did. The life of Queen Elizabeth I has been retold many times; this movie simply fades in with the many other dramatisations. Somehow, her character seems to inspire our lives and the world we live in each time.



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