International Writers Magazine: Film Review
Well, I am not going
to say that Shekhar Kapurs second Elizabeth fits entirely into this
category, but despite the dazzling wardrobe, megalithic sets and pleasing
photography, this film fails to convince. The screenplay focuses on Elizabeths
relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh and that is where it begins to go
wrong. Although it is quite possible that the Queen liked Raleigh, there
is no historical evidence to suggest that she was in love with him, and
to make it appear as if he was the only man on close terms with the Queen
is misleading. Where are Robert Dudley and William Cecil? Even the Earl
of Essex had made his appearance by the time of the Spanish Armada. There
are missed opportunities here.
The Golden Age
Director: Shekhar Kapur
starring Cate Blanchette, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish,
Have you ever
been home alone on a rainy Sunday afternoon, nursing a cold and
flicking through TV channels out of boredom? Then you hit upon one
of those old Hollywood black and white historical dramas: Bette
Davis plays the Queen and Errol Flynn the love interest. There is
sexual tension, the hero swashes while the villains buckle, the
Queen puts duty before love, "The End" flashes on the
screen and the credits roll to tragic-heroic music.
The screenplay gets off to a slow start: in between bouts of queenly flirting
with Raleigh there are comings and goings between spies and glimpses of
a Spanish King depicted as a religious maniac whose daughter goes around
carrying what looks like a voodoo doll of Elizabeth I. The Catholics,
always in black, are the villains of the piece although casting could,
at least, have found actors who spoke Spanish with credible accents! While
we are on accents, Mary Queen of Scots more than likely did not speak
with a Scottish accent; she was brought up in France, so chances are that
she spoke with a French accent. This was either a concession to the American
market or hopelessly idle research.
Although the dialogue fails to sparkle, we get a respectable performance
form Cate Blanchett as the lonely queen. Clive Owens Raleigh is
wooden: we see little of the charisma that is supposed to have charmed
the Queen of England and seduced one of her ladies in waiting. The sets
are vast and cathedral-like. In fact they are Cathedrals. (Wells Cathedral
in particular) Elizabeth and her court spend the film walking up and down
what appears to be church aisles, the intimacy of Elizabethan palaces
is missing and through this the story becomes rather cold and visually
theatrical, rather like those Shakespearean plays that people keep putting
on in the great halls of stately homes. The streets of London, the very
atmosphere of 1585 is missing, as are the people. This is a scent free,
sterile glimpse of English history.
Cornish as Bess, steals the movie from under Cate Blanchett's nose
Blanchetts wardrobe is stunning and her make-up excellent.
I lost count of how many changes she has, including the rather sexy
suit of armour Kapur has her wear as Elizabeth addresses her troops
at Tilbury. (A touch of Joan of Arc here but there is no evidence
that this ever happened). The battle scenes come a bit too late
to enliven this production but give the hero a chance to do his
Errol Flynn stuff as we see him swing from the rigging and swim
underwater a la James Bond.
Sadly it looks as if we are seeing the return of the overhyped historical
romance: Ageless heroines, swashbuckling heroes, big budget wardrobe and
an abandoned disregard for historical accuracy.
© Anna-Marie Dover November 2007
Anna is studying Creative Writing with Languages at the University of
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