| The Red Right Hand
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
"I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too; and think foul scorn that ... Spain, or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field" This is part of the infamous and inspiring speech given by Queen Elizabeth to rally her troops at Tilbury. Other than her 'Golden Speech' in 1601 it remains her most famous words and ranks up in the annals of Inspirational British words uttered by the likes of Shakespeare and Churchill. The reason I highlighted this speech was to illustrate that no level of hollywoodised scripts can match what was said.
1998 saw the release of Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth. It was extremely good but a little poorly paced… that and I didn't like Joseph Fiennes. Despite this, it was a critical success and received a bountiful helping of Oscar nominations. Nearly ten years later, a sequel has been produced, to highlight Elizabeth's social and personal dramas with Sir Walter Raleigh [Owen] and the 'Holy War' with Spain. Like most natives of this Scepter'd Isle, I learned of the immense invasion fleet dubbed, the Spanish Armada. If memory serves me, the Spanish couldn't dock because the English bays weren't deep enough, our use of fire ships and the wind. Yes, it may sound ridiculous but the United Kingdom of Great Britain has been protected more than once by the seas that surround her; on this occasion, the largest ship and head of the fleet was toppled due to over-stacking, over-loading and poor weather conditions.
Despite the lavish costumes, this film is a historical nightmare; a gun-point assassination attempt, use of historical locations, despite their current weathered conditions, poor use of Sir Walter Raleigh in general and a gross misrepresentation of Catholics, Mary Stuart [Samantha Morton] and the entire Spanish nation. The story itself is entertaining enough and keeps you hooked to the screen but the dreaded Spanish invasion is batted away with a pitiful montage sequence, followed by peculiar rotational shots of Elizabeth standing in a hallway. In all fairness, this is a very entertaining film that should do well with the public (probably not as well as its predecessor but enough to earn the revenue) but, to be honest, do we need another telling of Elizabeth's life? She must be one of the most filmed Monarchs in British history... she's becoming more and more like President Lincoln; he crops up in nearly everything.
2nd November 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
Despite its healthy budget, Elizabeth: The Golden Age shies away from grand and epics shots. As a sequel, this film should be littered with highlights to surpass the original but, bar the Armada sequences, seems fairly tame. I suppose, one scene that stays with me would have to be those involving Philip II of Spain [Jordi Molla]. It wasn't necessarily the oddly green hue or the way in which Philip was portrayed (a cowering, shuffling, religious fanatic) but the unique way in which the shots were filmed. OH! Or the most obscene dance I have ever witnessed; maybe not the most but pretty racy nevertheless.
Many of the supporting cast feel a little out of place but once again Cate Blanchett proves that she is simply perfect in the role of Elizabeth, outshining all others on screen.
"I will not punish my people for their beliefs, only for their deeds"
In A Few Words:
"A standard sequel period drama held together by one phenomenal performance; don't believe the hype"