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A movie directed by Shekhar Kapur

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Brillant, sweeping, epic of a film.

  • Jul 26, 2000
Pros: Great performances by all...

Cons: Not enough background historical information

It’s the mid-16th century and England’s King Henry VIII is several years’ dead and his offspring are vying, scheming, and murdering for the chance to take the throne. As a result of Henry’s well-documented exploits, England—not yet the great power it was to become—is in the middle of civil unrest (again). On this occasion it’s Catholic against Protestant; vengeful Catholic’s are now persecuting (burning, and murdering) Protestant’s, bent on re-establishing the one true faith with the help of Rome.

The English Parliament, though a viable body, is not nearly as powerful a body as it will become and the King or Queen still rule supreme. The United Kingdom of Britain & Ireland has not yet come into being, Scotland has yet to be conquered, nor has Ireland. The great and powerful British navy of the 16th –20th centuries has yet to be put to sea, instead the nation’s small fleet sits rotting in the harbors of Portsmouth, London and other English coastal cities. And England has no standing Army to speak of!

Spain is the most powerful nation in Europe; her Navy rules the seas and thus the new world. France, forever a thorn in England’s side (and visa-versa), is threatening England from the north via Scotland, by providing troops to the Scottish queen, Mary. The Pope still reins superlative in Rome, ruling from on high bestowing, or withholding, his blessing to rulers at will, strengthening or weakening their rule. And lastly, the Church of England still answers to Rome, and it allegiances are spit, between the monarch and the Papacy.

Into this backdrop Elizabeth Tutor the “Virgin Queen”, crowned Queen Elizabeth I, is propelled into power by the death of her half sister Mary. Surrounded by underhanded, patronizing, and self-serving courtiers, Elizabeth, played brilliantly, regally, and seductively by Cate Blanchett must stay ahead of them all if she is to maintain her thrown.

Blanchett is the hero of this film, filled with so many fine performances. Her naiveté and quite beauty seduces the audience and makes you care passionately for her character. All of the cast of characters perform brilliantly, I especially enjoyed the performance of Geoffrey Rush, as Elizabeth’s able advisor and enforcer, Walsingham. His quiet, yet forceful presence was a standout in a movie full of forceful stellar performances.

Academy Award winner for Best Makeup, Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction/Set Direction, Costume Design, Dramatic Score, Elizabeth is a beautiful sweeping epic that tells a history many of us never knew, or gave little thought to. But, to understand this tale is to understand the mystery and majesty that was and is England of the past and present. If you enjoy a good historical romp that holds true to the record you would do well to see this rich explosive movie that will leave you wanting for more. See this movie!

Release date: 1998
Genre: Dramas
Star: Cate Blanchett - Queen Elizabeth I
Star: Geoffrey Rush - Walsingham
Star: Joseph Fiennes – Earl of Leicester
Star: Christopher Eccleston – Duke of Norfolk
Star: John Gielgud – The Pope
Star: Richard Attenborough – Sir William Cecil
Director: Kapur Shekhar
Rating: R
Running Time: 180min


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About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


The story of Queen Elizabeth I, from her days as an innocent young woman to her coronation, up to the formation of her reputation as England's stern "Virgin Queen". A lush portrait of history, full of pomp, intrigue, and romance and anchored by Blanchett's award-winning performance and colorful direction from Indian newcomer Kapur. Academy Award winner for Best Makeup, Nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction/Set Direction, Costume Design, Dramatic Score.
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Cast: Fanny Ardant
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Release Date: 1998
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: Universal Studios Home Video (December 30, 2008)
Runtime: 2hr 4min
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