Original film poster
|Directed by||Shekhar Kapur|
|Produced by||Tim Bevan
|Written by||Michael Hirst|
|Music by||David Hirschfelder|
|Editing by||Jill Bilcock|
|Studio||PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Working Title Films
Channel 4 Films
|Distributed by||Gramercy Pictures|
|Running time||126 minutes|
Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, Sir John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough. This 1998 film is loosely based on the early years of Elizabeth's reign. In 2007, Blanchett and Rush reprised their roles in the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, covering the later part of her reign.
The film brought Australian actress Blanchett to international attention. She won several awards for her portrayal of Elizabeth, notably a BAFTA and a Golden Globe in 1998, while the film was also named the 1998 BAFTA Best British Film. Elizabeth was nominated in 7 categories in the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress, receiving the prize for Best Makeup.
The film sees a young Elizabeth elevated to the throne on the death of her half-sister Mary I, who had imprisoned her. Her reign over the divided and bankrupt realm is perceived as weak and under threat of invasion by Early Modern France or Habsburg Spain. For the future stability and security of the crown she is urged by advisor William Cecil (Attenborough) to marry, and has suitors in the Catholic Philip II of Spain and the French Henri, Duc d'Anjou. She instead embarks on an affair with the wholly unsuitable Robert Dudley (Fiennes).
Elizabeth must counter threats from within such as the powerful 4th Duke of Norfolk (Eccleston), and from the armies of Mary of Guise (Ardant) garrisoned in Scotland. She also faces plots from Rome directed by Pope Pius V (Gielgud). Assisted by her 'spymaster' Francis Walsingham (Rush), she puts down the threats both internal and external, ruthlessly executing the plotters. Elizabeth eventually ends her affair and resolves to marry nobody except England. The film ends with Elizabeth assuming the persona of the 'Virgin Queen', initiating England's Golden Age.
In 1558, the Roman Catholic Queen Mary dies of a cancerous tumour in her uterus, leaving her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth as queen. Elizabeth had previously been jailed for a supposed conspiracy to murder Mary but has now been freed for her coronation. The film shows Elizabeth being courted by suitors (including Henri, Duc d'Anjou, the future King Henry III of France, whom she rejects) and urged by William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley to marry, which, as he states, would secure her throne. Instead, she has a secret affair with her childhood sweetheart, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The affair is, however, no secret from Cecil—who makes it clear that a monarch has no private life.
Elizabeth deals with various threats to her reign, including the Duke of Norfolk; her Catholic cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who conspires to have her murdered; Mary's mother, Mary of Guise, who brings French troops into Scotland to attack Elizabeth's forces when they invade.
Elizabeth permanently banishes Dudley from her private presence when she finds out that he is married. Elizabeth feels that such relations could give a man too much power over her. Moreover, cutting off her relations with Dudley is part of the process by which she becomes increasingly tough and assertive—in one scene she carefully prepares and rehearses the speech she would deliver to a recalcitrant Parliament and force through her religious reforms, the Act of Uniformity.
She also becomes capable of occasional ruthless behaviour—as in unflinchingly ordering the execution of those who she considers dangerous to her rule, as well as taking up as her right-hand man the Machiavellian Walsingham, who thinks nothing of torturing or killing people. At the end of the film, Norfolk is executed for his conspiracy and Mary of Guise is assassinated by Elizabeth's advisor, Francis Walsingham.
All this is a considerable change from the warm-hearted, rather romantic girl which Elizabeth was in the early parts of the film; remaining such would have been incompatible with being a queen who actually ruled and dominated the men around her, and her transformation is a major theme of the film.
The film ends with Elizabeth having her hair cut by Kat and assuming the white-faced and gowned persona of the 'Virgin Queen', and initiating England's Golden Age. She sits down and the screen cuts to black.
- Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I
- Geoffrey Rush as Sir Francis Walsingham
- Christopher Eccleston as Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
- Joseph Fiennes as Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester
- Richard Attenborough as William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
- Kathy Burke as Queen Mary I
- George Yiasoumi as Philip II of Spain
- Emily Mortimer as Kat Ashley
- Edward Hardwicke as Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel
- Daniel Craig as John Ballard
- James Frain as Alvaro de la Quadra
- Kelly Macdonald as Isabel Knollys
- Kenny Doughty as Sir Thomas Elyot
- Angus Deayton as Waad, Chancellor of the Exchequer
- John Gielgud as Pope Pius V
- Fanny Ardant as Mary of Guise
- Vincent Cassel as Henri, Duc d'Anjou
- Eric Cantona as Monsieur de Foix
The costuming and shot composition of the coronation scene is based on Elizabeth's coronation portrait.
According to the director's commentary, Kapur mentioned that the role of the Pope (played by Sir John Gielgud) was originally offered to, and accepted by, Marlon Brando. However, plans changed when Kapur noted that many on set would probably be concerned that Brando would be sharing the set with them for two days. Later, when Gielgud had taken the role, Kapur at one point suggested (in eventual vain) that the Pope's accent should be Italian; he added that every British and English actor within earshot was horrified that any director was asking Sir John Gielgud to speak in an accent that "wasn't John Gielgud".
A large proportion of the indoor filming, representing the royal palace, was conducted in various corners of Durham Cathedral—its unique nave pillars are clearly identifiable as such.
The film was received well by critics and the public, it holds a 82% 'fresh' rating on film aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 49 film critic reviews. The site's consensus was: "No mere historical drama, Elizabeth is a rich, suspenseful journey into the heart of British Royal politics, and features a typically outstanding performance from Cate Blanchett."
Filming locations 
- Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, England, UK (Princess Elizabeth is arrested with her followers)
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Aydon Castle, Corbridge, Northumberland, England, UK
- Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland, England, UK
- Bolton Castle, Leyburn, North Yorkshire, England, UK
- Durham Cathedral, Durham, County Durham, England, UK
- Haddon Hall, Bakewell, Derbyshire, England, UK
- Harrisburg, Australia
- Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK
- Middle Temple, Temple, Holborn, London, England, UK
- Raby Castle, Durham, County Durham, England, UK (river pageant)
- York Minster, York, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Historical inaccuracies 
||This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (March 2012)|
||This section may contain original research. (March 2012)|
The film takes many liberties with history. Among them:
- In the film, Robert Dudley is Elizabeth's lover; however, though their relationship was romantic, it is not known certainly whether it was sexual.
- In the film, Queen Mary I dies at the end of a phantom pregnancy; in reality, Mary died three years after her phantom pregnancy of an unknown illness aggravated by influenza.
- In the film, Kat Ashley is portrayed as Elizabeth's agemate; in reality, Ashley was 31 years older than Elizabeth.
- In the film, a fictional courtship between Elizabeth and Henry, Duke of Anjou, is depicted. In reality, the two never met and the Queen of England was actually courted nearly ten years later by his younger brother Francis, Duke of Anjou when she was 46. The film also depicts Henry as Elizabeth's agemate; in reality, Elizabeth was 18 years older than Henry.
- In the film, Elizabeth rejects Henry's suit in part because he is a bisexual transvestite; in reality, Henry is not recorded to have been a transvestite and rumours of his bisexuality may have been a smear campaign.
- In the film, Henry, Duke of Anjou, is portrayed as Mary of Guise's nephew, spending time with her in Scotland after the rejection of his suit by Elizabeth and being present at her death; in reality, Henry never met Mary of Guise, and was in fact not related to her by blood. Henry's brother Francis was Mary of Guise's daughter Mary's first husband. Also, Mary of Guise belonged to the House of Guise, who were sworn rivals of the House of Valois, to which Henry belonged.
- In the film, Mary of Guise is poisoned by Francis Walsingham after Elizabeth rejects Henry's suit; in reality, Mary died of edema in 1560, nine years before Henry's suit.
- In the film, Robert Dudley converts to Catholicism; in reality, Dudley was a lifelong Protestant.
- In the film, Dudley's wife dies when she wears one of Elizabeth's dresses poisoned by John Ballard in an assassination attempt on the queen; in reality, Dudley's wife broke her neck tripping down stairs. 
- In the film, the ambassador of Spain, Álvaro de la Quadra, is assassinated in retaliation to the Babington Plot; in reality, de la Quadra died in 1564, 22 years before the Babington Plot.
- The film also makes no mention of the fact that Norfolk was Elizabeth's cousin through her maternal grandmother Lady Elizabeth Howard.
- In the film, Norfolk's plot to marry Mary, Queen of Scots is portrayed as happening in tandem with the Babington Plot; in reality, Norfolk was imprisoned for his involvement in the Ridolfi plot in 1569 and executed in 1572, 14 years before the Babington Plot.
- William Cecil was not even 40 years old when Elizabeth began her reign, contrary to his cinematic portrayal as elderly. He was not retired by the young queen, either. He remained one of her most trusted advisers until his death, shortly before hers. Similarly, Francis Walsingham was in his mid-twenties when Elizabeth was crowned, not a middle-aged man as he was portrayed by Geoffrey Rush.
- The conspiracy of the Duke of Norfolk combines several events into one—in the film he is arrested and summarily executed for trying to supplant Elizabeth and marry Mary, Queen of Scots, to cement his hold on the throne. In reality, Norfolk was imprisoned in 1569 for trying to wed Mary, Queen of Scots, without permission, but was eventually released. He was then implicated in a separate plot in 1572 (three years later) to put Mary, Queen of Scots, on the throne, for which he was then tried and executed. Contrary to his portrayal in the film as ruthless and powerful, he was actually a weak man, easily led and used by others.
- Bishop Stephen Gardiner (Terence Rigby) died before Elizabeth came to the throne, and had no part in the Ridolfi plot.
- The Earl of Arundel was not executed as shown in the film, but was confined to the Tower of London and died as a prisoner.
- The Earl of Sussex was a loyal servant of the Queen and was neither implicated in the plot nor executed.
- When Elizabeth is being questioned by her accusers in the beginning of the film at the Tower of London, the bishop suggests that the debate between Catholicism and Protestantism is what killed her mother, Anne Boleyn. This is not at all the case, for it was the (probably false) accusations of witchcraft, incest, treason and fornication between Anne and other noblemen that sent her to her death.
- At the end of the film, Elizabeth decides to shave her hair to look like a virgin. In reality, she never shaved or even cut her hair short. Later in her life, when someone entered her chambers not knowing she was still in bed, it was recorded that the queen's hair was "all about her ears". In the film, she is shown wearing a wig in the end, and though the real Elizabeth did wear one later in life, it was worn to hide the thin, sparse hair that was the result of her bout with smallpox.
- In order to guarantee passage of the Act of Uniformity, Walsingham locks up six bishops (including the dead Stephen Gardiner), securing the Queen's act, which won by five votes. No such incarceration took place. Also, bishops throughout the film are shown wearing black mitres, which is historically inaccurate.
- In the epilogue it is stated that Sir Francis Walsingham served Elizabeth until the end of her reign. However, Walsingham died 13 years before Elizabeth did.
- The film depicts John Ballard as a co-conspirator of Norfolk in a fictionalised version of the Ridolfi plot; in reality, Ballard was considered the initiator of the Babington plot and was executed for his involvement in the same.
- The film depicts Sir Thomas Elyott being murdered by drowning by John Ballard, who reveals Elyott had been passing information on Howard's actions to Walsingham; in truth, Elyott died in 1546 at his estate in Cambridgeshire.
Accusations of anti-Catholicism 
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights accused the film of anti-Catholicism, stating that the film gives the "impression that the religious strife was all the doing of the Catholic Church", noting that the review in The New York Times considered it "resolutely anti-Catholic" complete with a "scheming pope" and repeating the charge made in the Buffalo News that "every single Catholic in the film is dark, cruel and devious".
Elizabeth premiered in September 1998 at the Venice Film Festival and was also shown at the Toronto International Film Festival. It premiered in London on 2 October 1998 and it premiered in the United States on 13 October 1998. It opened in the United Kingdom on 23 October 1998 and opened in limited release in the United States in nine cinemas on 6 November 1998, grossing $275,131. Its widest release in the United States and Canada was in 624 cinemas, and its largest weekend gross throughout its run in cinemas in the US and Canada was $3.9 million in 516 cinemas, ranking No.9 at the box office. Elizabeth went on to gross $30 million in the United States and Canada, and a total of $82.1 million worldwide.
- 71st Academy Awards: Best Makeup (Jenny Shircore)
- BAFTA Awards: Alexander Korda Awards for Best British Film (Alison Owen, Tim Bevan), Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music (David Hirschfelder), Best Cinematography (Remi Adefarasin), Best Makeup/Hair (Jenny Shircore), Best Supporting Actor (Geoffrey Rush), Best Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Breakthrough Artist (Joseph Fiennes)
- Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- Empire Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- Golden Globe Awards: Best Actress – Motion Picture – Drama (Cate Blanchett)
- Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards: Most Promising Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- London Critics Circle Film Awards: Actress of the Year (Cate Blanchett), British Producer of the Year (Alison Owen, Tim Bevan)
- National Board of Review: Best Director (Shekhar Kapur)
- Online Film Critics Society Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- Satellite Awards: Best Costume Design (Alexandra Byrne), Best Actress – Drama (Cate Blanchett)
- Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- Toronto Film Critics Association Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett)
- Venice Film Festival: Max Factor Award (Jenny Shircore)
- Academy Awards: Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Art Direction (John Myhre), Best Cinematography (Remi Adefarasin), Best Costume Design (Alexandra Byrne), Best Original Score (David Hirschfelder), Best Picture (Alison Owen, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan)
- BAFTAs: Best Costume Design (Alexandra Byrne), Best Editing (Jill Bilcock), Best Picture (Alison Owen, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan), Best Art Direction (John Myhre), Best Original Screenplay (Michael Hirst), David Lean Award for Direction (Shekhar Kapur)
- Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Best Film
- Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Cinematography (Remi Adefarasin), Best Original Score (David Hirschfelder)
- Golden Globe Awards: Best Director (Shekhar Kapur), Best Motion Picture – Drama
- Satellite Awards: Best Director (Shekhar Kapur), Best Motion Picture – Drama (Alison Owen, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan), Best Art Direction (John Myhre)
- "Elizabeth". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- Hume 1892–1899 Vol. I pp. 57–58; Wilson 1981 p. 95
- Loades, p. 305; Whitelock, p. 300
- Erlanger, Philippe (1935). Henri III. Paris: Gallimard.
- Le Roux, Nicolas (2006). Un régicide au nom de Dieu, l'assassinat d'Henri III. Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 2-07-073529-X.
- Boucher, Jacqueline (1986). La cour de Henri III. Rennes: Ouest-France. ISBN 2-7373-0019-3.
- Dickinson, Gladys, Two Missions of de la Brosse, SHS (1942), 171–177.
- Loades, 53–54.
- Wilson 1981 pp. 118–120
- Elizabeth is "resolutely anti-Catholic" Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, January–February 1999
- "Elizabeth (1998) – Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 October 2007.
- "Elizabeth (1998) – Weekend Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 October 2007.
- Weekend Box Office - November 27-29, 1998. Box Office Mojo. (8 July 2011). Retrieved on 8 August 2011.
- "Elizabeth (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 15 October 2007.
- "The 1999 Oscar Winners - RopeofSilicon.com Award Show Central". Ropeofsilicon.com. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Awards Database - The BAFTA site". Bafta.org. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards :: 1998". Bfca.org. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Chicago Film Critics Awards - 1998-07". Chicagofilmcritics.org. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "The 1999 Golden Globe Award Winners - RopeofSilicon.com Award Show Central". Ropeofsilicon.com. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures :: Awards". Nbrmp.org. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Online Film Critics Society". Ofcs.rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- "Awards Database - The BAFTA site". Bafta.org. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Elizabeth (film)|
- Elizabeth at the Internet Movie Database
- Elizabeth at Rotten Tomatoes
- Elizabeth at AllRovi
- Shekhar Kapur in Interview with 99FACES.tv