Sunday October 14, 2007 10:05 am
‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’: A Less Than Royal Film
When Cate Blanchett blazed onto the big screen as Queen Elizabeth I nine years ago, Hollywood couldn’t help but to take notice. She commanded royally, earning an Oscar nomination and much acclaim for her role as England’s 16th century monarch. Elizabeth has long been a character of fascination to historians and ordinary people, the daughter of Henry VIII and a woman who led in a time when most females followed. But that doesn’t guarantee Blanchett will lead at the box office, and early reviews are unflattering, to say the least.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age showcases the queen during a later period of rule, a hectic time that sees Elizabeth battling for supremacy against the frightening Spanish Armada, and Queen of Scots Mary Stuart. Elaborate sets and costumes give viewers plenty of eye candy in the Golden Age, but the timid approach to bold subject matter is sure to turn audiences off. Blanchett is nearing forty, though The Golden Age portrays a Queen beyond the age of 50. The movie, at least, offers some true historical accuracy – and if it didn’t, I would be the first one to start hollering. Elizabeth was a Protestant in a time when England wasn’t so hip to changing religious trends, a woman who defied convention and the Pope to rule her people the way she desired. This caused a clash between England’s Queen and her own cousin Mary Stuart, the devoutly Catholic Queen of Scotland. The imprisonment and subsequent execution of Mary Stuart has long been a stain on England’s history, and a famous fable that has been re-told countless times. Stuart was the mother of James, who would become King James I of England and the man who brought the Bible to the common folk.
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The story of The Golden Age is told with a modern edge, giving women much more boldness than what they expressed, and painting Elizabeth as a warrior-Queen, as opposed to the somewhat single-minded and stubborn monarch she was. A daughter whose father remained completely obsessed with having a son, Elizabeth had something to prove from beginning to the end of her reign. As she grew older, she felt affection for much younger men and nearly ripped England apart with her mulish, Protestant ways. Not to mention, she beheaded her own cousin for political reasons, though it’s highly unlikely Mary coveted England’s throne. But as Elizabeth, Blanchett shines as only a superb actress can. History might have been painted with a rosy hue and Elizabeth’s battle prowess might have suffered some poetic license, but at the end of the day Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a lush, glittering film filled with stunning visuals…and so-so acting.
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