Reviewed by: W.J. Kimble
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