Elizabeth: The Golden Age


Directed by: Shekhar Kapur
Written by:William Nicholson, Michael Hirst
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton, Abbie Cornish, Jordi Molla, Rhys Ifans, Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hollander
Released: November 15, 2007
Grade: B

Elizabeth was regarded one of the best films of 1998.  It was nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture (which it lost to Shakespeare In Love).  It told the story of Queen Elizabeth’s ascension to the English throne in the mid 16th Century.  She was just 25 years old at the time.  Many Catholics despised Elizabeth as she was England’s first Protestant queen.  Others disliked the fact that she was unmarried and refused to produce an heir.  They were turbulent times but Elizabeth held firm and defeated her adversaries.

Elizabeth: The Golden Age takes us forward a few decades.  Time has passed and new enemies have emerged.  Elizabeth’s cousin, Mary, Queen Of Scots, is plotting to take the throne.  Her Catholic supporters believe that she is true Queen and that Elizabeth must be assassinated.

Believe it or not, there are bigger worries for Elizabeth.  Spain has assembled a huge army and they are preparing to attack.  The advice from her aides is that England will not have the military strength to defeat Spain.  The strain of the situation is taking its toll on Elizabeth.  She is struggling to find hope.

It’s a fascinating period of history but Shekhar Kapur’s film makes it all look rather boring.  The story doesn’t flow – it’s as if we’re watching fragments only.  It’s not often I say this but I think this movie should have been up to an hour longer.  Not enough time is spent on Mary, Queen Of Scots nor the Spanish invasion.

Instead of focusing on the juicy stuff, the film gets bogged down looking at Elizabeth’s friendship/ relationship with explorer Walter Raleigh.  Caught in the middle is one of her long-time confidants, Elizabeth Throckmorton, who also has an interest in Raleigh.  Yawn.

No effort has been spared in transporting us back a few centuries.  The costumes and set decoration all look superb.  The performances are also solid – Cate Blanchett displays her talent by going through a variety of mood swings.  It’s also nice to see young Australian actress Abbie Cornish (Somersault) getting her chance to shine in a big-time movie.

The best part of the film is the action packed final half hour.  Just make sure you stay awake for it.