Monday, September 21, 2009

Queen Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007) is a compelling historical film, starring Cate Blanchett as the legendary Queen Elizabeth I of England, and won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Costume. It is a controversial film because of its melodramatic influence over a more realistic epic film of a great ruler which was the height of the reigning feminist in history, the Elizabethan era. She might have been a female ruler donned in an ornate gown yet had the heart and mind of a powerful man.

The film takes place in the late 1,500’s while England is under the rule of Queen Elizabeth I. The historical plot revolves between the fierce rivalry of two powerful countries, England and Spain. King Philip II of Spain wants to rule England and builds Armada to invade it and become its ruler. Later, he orchestrates a plot with Jesuit group to assassinate Elizabeth, known as the “Babington Plot,” implicating Mary Stuart as the Queen of Scots, for conspiring the act which leads to her arrest and later an execution for high treason.

Elizabeth is known to remain a Virgin Queen but as the Queen of England she perceives herself as married to her kingdom. However, there are dramatic twists in this epic film showing the attraction between Elizabeth and Sir Walter Raleigh, an explorer returning from the New World played by Clive Owen. But her love for Raleigh ends when she discovers that he is discretely married to her favorite lady-in-waiting, Bess. Their intimacy provokes opposition and, outraged, Elizabeth banishes Bess from court and imprisons Raleigh in the Tower of London. She later forgives them and releases Raleigh to join the attack on the Spanish Armada ships, resulting victorious. Defeating the Spanish Armada in 1588 is considered to be one of the greatest triumphs in the annals of England.

The acting is absolutely superfluous and Cate Blanchett should have won that Academy Award for Best Actress. Also, the spectacular cinematography and Elizabeth’s ornate costume and white painted face, which is seemingly imbued throughout her skin representing an iconographic image of a powerful queen, successfully transport the audience into the scenes.

A controversy arose due to inaccurate historical facts that were altered due to the artistic vision of director, Shekhar Kapur. Cate Blanchett said, “It’s terrifying that we are growing up with this very illiterate bunch of children, who are somehow being taught that film is fact, when in fact it’s invention. Hopefully though an historical film will inspire people to go and read about the history. But in the end it is a work of history and selection.”

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