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Elizabeth The Film Essay, Research Paper

Film Evaluation

Jonathan Costantini


Historical Time of the Film: 1552 – Mid sixteenth century.

Historical Place Setting of the Film: England

Theme of the Film: How Elizabeth managed to gain the throne through turmoil, and then maintain it through even greater conflict and opposition.

Greatest Surprise of the Film: The attention to detail and the symbolism employed to make the story richer than any other period piece. The script was also very well written, and very well paced making the movie much more enjoyable to watch because it was interesting and did not drag.

Historical Characters Prioritized: Elizabeth I, Duke of Leicester, Sir William Cecil, Walsingham, Duke of Norfolk, Mary Queen of Scots, and the Vatican, various potential suitors to Elizabeth I.

Understanding Clarified Which Would Not Be Achieved Through Reading Alone: Elizabeth’s political struggles greatly affected her personal life. Being a passionate woman did not make this easy, and she was forced to give up much, even love, for her rule and her state.

Summary: The film Elizabeth is set in 1552, mid sixteenth century, when a shift in power is about to occur in the British Empire. The daughter of Henry VIII and one of his many headless brides, Elizabeth was not only outcast because of this, but because of her protestant religious beliefs and affiliations. Her half sister Mary, along with her sister’s husband Philip II of Spain, ruled the English Empire at this time. They were both strict to the catholic faith and when they felt the threat of their protestant relative. They had her arrested and brought to the Tower of London for interrogation, and hopefully a confession of treasonous heresy. But in a turn of events, Mary dies without giving way to signing Elizabeth’s death warrant. Suddenly a “protestant heretic” is upon the throne of England. So Elizabeth I, of the house of Tudor, begins her rule of the English Empire on a wobbly footing. With the likes of the Duke of Norfolk and up even to as high as the Vatican itself, plotting against the new Queen, and Elizabeth’s personal endeavors complicating her rule, Elizabeth must choose wisely in her actions so not to lose her throne or her head. Biding by the advice of her trusted counsel including her lover, the Duke of Leicester, Sir William Cecil, her only real father figure, and her advisor and bodyguard Walsingham, Elizabeth tried to bring her rule and her state to order. In the end, Elizabeth has to give her love and her personal life to perfect her rule. She becomes “The Virgin Queen” and does not marry, instead marrying the state and ruling the country with all her concentration.

Critique of the Film: I thought Elizabeth was an amazing film, part period piece, part power struggle, part love story. This film has the elements of a classic film. It is, as a whole, riveting, accurate, and educational.

Play the Role of a Reviewer for the New Yorker: Consider:

(a) What was left out? Much of Elizabeth’s latter rule was left out, instead the film opted to tell the story behind her rise to power, and he she eventually gained a foothold on her power, securing herself as “The Virgin Queen” of England. Other things that were left out were Elizabeth’s formative years as a child, although both of these really had little significance or bearing on the story that was being told in this film.

(b) What was inaccurate? Nothing that I saw was not based on facts or completely accurate. The script was highly researched as well all of the elements to the film were. Costumes and sets were perfectly in check with the time period. Language was also very accurate with the times. I would say that much attention to detail and accuracy was paid towards all elements of this film. This gives the film a historical integrity while also making it very interesting and entertaining. This did not feel like a boring Merchant – Ivory movie. To me, this film was a kind of Goodfellas of the sixteenth century.

(c) Were conclusions drawn not warranted by the facts? Yes, as a character, Elizabeth wanted to rule England as passionately as she ruled her own personal life previous to the throne. She also thought that the very same personal life would remain during her rule. Elizabeth learned that this was far more difficult than she had ever imagined, in the end making the difficult decision to become “The Virgin Queen” to secure her rule, and unfortunately end her personal life.

(d) How would you “make” the film? I don’t know that I would change from this film actually. I am pretty sure, in my opinion that this film works and is about as perfect as it can be. It has the balance of stories in it between; her love life, her religious beliefs, her struggle against suitors, and her resistance to imperious “nobles.” I loved the lighting and the cinematography. The dialogue was wonderful, as were the sets and costumes. The acting was impeccable, the performers drawing very magnetic performances. Especially Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth. She was everything the monarch was written to be and more.

(e) Did the Positives Outweigh the Negatives in Terms of:

1. Techniques of Presentations? Yes, the techniques employed in this film were very skillful. The cinematography and lighting were perfect, both dark yet rich. The screenplay placed importance on keeping the plot plugging along, as well as giving the characters true depth. The symbolism was heavy but not heavy-handed, adding subtleties to scenes and making the film more interpretable.

2. Substance? The substance was good and very interesting, and made for a wonderful film presentation. The film was at no point boring or dull, and at every moment you cared about what would happen to the sympathetic characters as a result of their struggles. That’s what makes a film good.

3. Results? A great script, concentrated direction, brilliant lighting and cinematography, etc. all helped make the film very good. But the core of this film is definitely the emotion. The acting was wonderful and the story was nothing short of great. These were the hearts of the film.

Recommendations for Future Use of this Film: This films gives amazing insight into what royalty have to go through. It was informative about the religious struggles in Europe in the sixteenth century, as well as the overall fight for power the throne causes. The film brings much attention to the idea of corruption and betrayal, especially those you very much love and trust. The film focuses on the idea of sacrifice. Elizabeth had to sacrifice her own personal life in the end in order to secure her rule and remain queen of England. She symbolically cut her hair and became “The Virgin Queen,” deciding to never again let man or romance get in the way of the throne. Did she truly want to do this, or was it just a necessary evil? All that we are told is that she remained at the throne for another forty years after this film ends, and that her rule is considered England’s “Golden Age.”

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