I wonder if the feminists have discovered this movie and if so, what they think of it. How could they not discover it since it has won a number of awards, including seven Academy Award nominations? Yet, I wonder, because the movie is deeper than might be thought on first blush, and it reverberates, but not with any simplistic sexist answers to the human struggle, but with uncomfortable questions, disturbing allegations.
Allegation number one: a woman can rule and be the equal of a man, but she must suppress her feminine instincts. Uncomfortable question number one: are women as vicious and murderous as our "demonic males"?
What makes Elizabeth such a wonderful movie is the uncompromising portrait it presents of a woman in a life or death struggle while in a position of power. Notice that she does NOT become a man, nor take on bogus or pseudo masculine traits to achieve her ends. She remains a woman to the core, yet acts with the kind of aggressive, decisive, brutal intelligence usually assigned to men.
Next question: Is this good to know?
A great work of art can be content to ask the great questions, not presume to answer them.
Cate Blanchett is superb in the title role and wonderfully supported by Geoffrey Rush and Joseph Fiennes. Shekhar Kapur's direction is without a hint of cant or even the slightest pandering to a mass audience, and is psychologically true and without any presumption to moral or spiritual wisdom. There is no preaching or taking sides. The script is a work of scholarship fused with the most compelling dramatic development, climax and resolution. The editing is almost invisible yet we can see that exactly enough was cut away while the essence was preserved; viz., it is remarkable how we are led to experience the political growth of the young queen and see her take on the attributes of her father, as necessary, and then see her seek refuge in the church and a kind of piety as "the Virgin Queen" in such a short period of elapsed screen time. THAT is film making of the highest quality.
Not enough can be said about the subtle, charming, expansive, vivid and veracious performance of Blanchett, yet Joseph Fiennes is to be commended for achieving success in a difficult and unsympathetic role. Geoffrey Rush's restraint and control in a part that could have easily been overplayed was highly admirable and contributed strongly to the success of the film.
This is not to say that the film is without flaws. The scene where Elizabeth discovers the French duke's homosexuality is unlikely as staged, and her risque behavior with Leicester not in character. Better, I think, would have been to keep him frustrated and allow him only to play at love; however, today's audiences seem to demand coitus always. Leicester's dalliance with one of her ladies was extremely stupid, but in character. The co-incidence of her wearing the acid dress as she betrayed her queen was a delicious if implausible irony. Further it was not made clear how the queen's commands through Walsingham are made viable so that they must be carried out; indeed the under struggle among the ministers was glossed over, although her dismissal of the no longer effective Sir William Cecil was aptly done.
Of course, I can presume to answer my queries. I think allegation number one, that a woman as a ruler must abandon her normal sexual drive is true, but the argument is too long for this space. Are women as vicious as men? They don't take the foolish chances that men take, since they can be reproductively rewarded only by staying alive and securing a stable future, whereas men can reproduce prodigiously for a while and then die successfully. But when necessary, women can be as brutal as Genghis Khan, as Elizabeth demonstrates.
Is it good to know that women are also vicious animals, when all the time we would prefer to think of them as fairy tale princesses? Well, something's lost and something's gained in growing up; but, yes, it's important to always keep that in mind when out there in the big world. I might add that it is sobering to realize that women as reproductive animals was not even addressed in this film. Therein lies another dimension of femininity that needs exploration...
--Dennis Littrell, author of the movie review book, "Cut to the Chaise Lounge, or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote"
she ruled for over 40 years and came to be the Virgin Queen of England
so much corruption existed inside the monarchy and she had enemies from all over Scotland as well as Spain and France
being born without her father and her own mother being scorned she was dawned the crown taking it upon herself to honor it
Lord Ford also took a romantic interest in her but little did she know that he kept something from her
Walsingham was her most trusted right hand going around and taking out every conspirator against her
being queen isn't as easy as it seems since Elizabeth had a lot to bear on her shoulders
so many politics involved from religion to war to making the followers of the crown stable
but Cate Blanchett completely sells it as the title character full of grace, wisdom, vulnerability and strength from within
an amazingly-acted early period flick