Thursday, September 13, 2007

TIFF 2007: Elizabeth: The Golden Age (U.K.)

Elizabeth: The Golden Age (U.K.) directed by Shekhar Kapur
Monday, September 10, 2007

Elizabeth: The Golden Age is the sequel to Elizabeth (1998) directed by Indian born director Shekhar Kapur. Kapur, who spoke before and after the film, said he wanted to create (and did to great effect) the sense of Queen Elizabeth I becoming a sort of divinity with her political empowerment and conquests after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in the late 16th c.

The Spanish, led by King Philip of Spain, wished to vanquish the English queen (Cate Blanchett), the alleged Protestant "bastard" offspring of King Henry VIII, and set the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton) upon the throne. Because Henry VIII had married and divorced a succession of wives and sired numerous offspring by them (against the edicts of the Catholic faith), his children were seen by some to be illegitimate.

Elizabeth, while rooting out the Spanish conspirators who plotted to assassinate her and the Spanish Armada which was poised to conquer England, had also, apparently, to combat her feelings for Sir Walter Raleigh (played by the dishy Clive Owen), an adventurer, explorer of the new world and discoverer of the state of Virginia which he named for his virgin Queen. She covets and flirts with Raleigh who in turns covets and flirts with one of her ladies in waiting. Elizabeth conducts a largely chaste if tormented relationship with him.

Beautifully costumed and shot, with only one or two scenes of bombastic acting on Cate Blanchett's part, she is by turns arrogant, "imperial", vulnerable and fraught by anxiety about the fate of her kingdom.

And as Kapur so charmingly stated, had she not vanquished the Spaniards we'd all be speaking Spanish now.

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