Movie Review

Elizabeth

Rfor violence and sexuality

Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Docudrama
Length:
2 hr. 1 min.
R

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Fanny Ardant / Director: Shekhar Kapur

See our review page on the sequel to this film: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)

In true Machiavellian style, Shekhar Kapur (the director) captures the essence of one of England’s most respected queens; and brings to light, with stunning brilliance, the issues of that tremendously volatile period. Right from the onset, Kapur catapults the viewer into the very heart of the matter, “Is the Catholic Church the only church? Do they have the right to condemn to death those who dare oppose them?” And if so, “Is there no one who can spare England from these horrible atrocities?”

History records that king Henry VIII did marry Anne Boleyn (the mother of Elizabeth I) and by doing so severed all religious ties with the Vatican. He was immediately declared a heretic and his wife was given the titles of “wh*re” and “witch”. His son, following in his footsteps, continued to allow the Protestants to worship freely; but after his passing, Mary (a devout Catholic) ascended the throne and reinstated the killings of Protestants (gaining her the title, “Bloody Mary”). Later, when Elizabeth ascended to the throne, she systematically eradicated these senseless killings and liberated the kingdom from all tyranny. History records this period as the golden age of England!

But how can this historically correct movie, which is so delightfully orchestrated, be considered Machiavellian? Kapur, an opportunistic gentleman, who cunningly crafts this movie into a masterpiece, corrupts it by unnecessarily exposing the viewer to some very graphic sexual liaisons. In one scene, we actually see a man and a woman in the act of sex. And I mean soft porn! In another scene we see an orgy in the making (however, the men still have their pants on, but the women are topless and you do see some of their breasts). In yet another scene, there is a man and a woman in the act of sex; and while they are fully clothed, you see and hear their moment of passion as they near its fulfillment. In still yet another scene, you see a woman, in sheer clothing, exposing herself to her consort. There are also plenty of other sexual innuendoes.

I can only pray that the High schools do not take your children to watch this filth (as a field trip to educate them in history)! The movie itself is superbly done. The historical value is enormous. But the gratuitous sex really is unnecessary and hurts this wonderfully performed story.

Cate Blanchett (“Oscar and Lucinda”), the leading lady, would make even queen Elizabeth I proud of her portrayal of the queen. She truly mesmerizes the audience as she wrestles with the key issues of her day. As a history buff, with a minor in history, I really enjoyed her portrayal of this truly remarkable woman. But I am appalled and aggravated at Kapur’s flagrant disregard of decency and honor.

Year of Release—1998

Viewer Comments
As a high school teacher of English, I was most anxious to see the film but came away from the theater disappointed. I know that castles are dark, but perhaps for the sake of Hollywood this one could have used some torches. So much of the film was dark. Elizabeth’s life, shown so quickly by the director, forgot to mention Shakespeare. I am NOT going to suggest that my students view this one!
—Sally, age 57
I thought this movie had some extremely anti-Christian undertones throughout its portrayal of Elizabeth’s reign. It seemed to attack Christian ideals more than it did the lack of religious freedom in England at the time. According to this story, Elizabeth didn’t seem to be at all concerned about religion, even on a level of personal faith. She appeared to be much more interested in bucking the notion of Christian morality altogether and replacing it with a “do whatever’s right for you” kind of approach. This approach supports the kind of amoral climate that persists in the world today. The movie’s version of Elizabeth seems to be a proponent for sexual liberation rather than a Christian with respect for herself and her fellow man. She apparently had no qualms about jumping in bed with a man to whom she was not married, at least according to the script. The director glorifies this particular scene by playing a romantic score in the background. Scenes like this led me to believe that the filmmaker’s agenda wasn’t all about accurately portraying history.
—Eric, age 27
Despite all the unnecessary sex and nudity in this film, I feel that it provides an important message. That message is that religious intolerance can destroy a nation. One of the main factors in the plot are the Catholics who don’t want a Protestant queen and in the process of trying to dethrone her are willing to sell out England to France and Spain in an effort to preserve their legislated belief system. The opening scene gives a graphic example of what can happen when the Church and the State are allowed to combine and persecute those who disagree with the “official” belief system. For the sake of those of us who are not ignorant and closed in our thinking I hope that America never has to suffer through a period in which a Christian majority is allowed to impose civil penalties on unbelievers.
—Gabriel Horton, age 16
I too felt this was a beautiful film, but marred by filth. They should have censored the nudity and sex since it was not important to the movie or setting.
—Michael, age 21