Original film poster
|Directed by||Shekhar Kapur|
|Produced by||Tim Bevan
|Written by||Michael Hirst|
|Music by||David Hirschfelder|
|Edited by||Jill Bilcock|
|Distributed by||Gramercy Pictures|
Elizabeth is a 1998 British 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, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough. The film is loosely based on the early years of Elizabeth's reign. Blanchett and Rush reprised their roles in the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), 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. The film was named the 1998 BAFTA Award for Best British Film and was nominated for seven awards at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress, winning 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. Elizabeth's reign over the divided and bankrupt realm is perceived as weak and under threat of invasion by France or Spain. For the future stability and security of the crown she is urged by advisor William Cecil (Attenborough) to marry; she has suitors in the Catholic Philip II of Spain and the French Henri, Duc d'Anjou. However, she instead embarks on an affair with the wholly unsuitable Robert Dudley (Fiennes).
Elizabeth must counter threats from within, such as the powerful Thomas Howard, 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 and Robert's affair and resolves to marry nobody except England. The film ends with Elizabeth assuming the persona of the "Virgin Queen", and saying: "I am married to England," initiating England's Golden Age.
In 1558, Catholic Queen Mary, dies of a uterine tumour. Mary's Protestant half-sister, Elizabeth, under arrest for an alleged conspiracy to murder Mary, is freed from her cell and crowned the new Queen of England.
As briefed by her adviser William Cecil, Elizabeth inherits a distressed England besieged by debts, crumbling infrastructure, hostile neighbours and treasonous nobles within her administration, chief among them the Duke of Norfolk. Cecil advises Elizabeth to marry, produce an heir and secure her rule. Unimpressed with her suitors, Elizabeth delays her decision and continues her secret affair with Lord Robert Dudley, while Cecil appoints Francis Walsingham, a Protestant exile returned from France, to act as Elizabeth's bodyguard and adviser.
Mary of Guise lands an additional 4,000 French troops in neighbouring Scotland. Unfamiliar with military strategy and browbeaten by Norfolk at the war council, Elizabeth orders a military response, which proves disastrous when the younger, ill-trained English forces are defeated by the professional French soldiers. Walsingham tells Elizabeth that Catholic lords and priests intentionally deprived Elizabeth's army of proper soldiers and used their defeat to argue for Elizabeth's removal. Realising the depth of the conspiracy against her and her dwindling options, Elizabeth accepts Mary of Guise's conditions, to consider marrying her nephew Henry of France.
To stabilise her rule and heal England's religious divisions, Elizabeth proposes the Act of Uniformity, which unites English Christians under the Church of England and severs their connection to the Vatican. In response to the Act's passage, the Vatican sends a priest to England to aid Norfolk and his cohorts in their growing plot to overthrow Elizabeth. Unaware of the plot, Elizabeth meets Henry of France but ignores his advances in favour of Lord Robert. William confronts Elizabeth over her indecisiveness about marrying and reveals Lord Robert is married to another woman. Elizabeth rejects Henry's marriage proposal when she discovers he is a cross-dresser and confronts Lord Robert about his secrets, fracturing their idyllic affair and banishing him from her private residence.
Elizabeth survives an assassination attempt, whose evidence implicates Mary of Guise. Elizabeth sends Walsingham to secretly meet with Mary in Scotland, under the guise of once again planning to marry Henry. Instead, Walsingham assassinates Guise, inciting French enmity against Elizabeth. When William orders her to solidify relations with the Spanish, she dismisses him from her service, choosing instead to follow her own counsel.
Walsingham warns of another plot to kill Elizabeth, spearheaded by a priest from Rome carrying letters of conspiracy. Under Elizabeth's orders, Walsingham apprehends the priest, from whom he learns the names of the conspirators and a Vatican agreement to elevate Norfolk to the English crown if he weds Mary, Queen of Scots. Walsingham arrests Norfolk, and executes him and every conspirator except Lord Robert, whom Elizabeth confronts. She allows him to live, as a reminder to never be blinded by romance again.
Drawing inspiration from the divine, Elizabeth cuts her hair and models her appearance after the Virgin Mary. Proclaiming herself married to England, she discards her humanity and ascends the throne as "the Virgin Queen".
- Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I of England
- Geoffrey Rush as Francis Walsingham
- Joseph Fiennes as Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
- Richard Attenborough as William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley
- Christopher Eccleston as Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk
- Kathy Burke as Mary I of England
- Fanny Ardant as Mary of Guise
- Vincent Cassel as Henry, Duc d'Anjou
- Emily Mortimer as Kat Ashley
- Kelly Macdonald as Isabel Knollys
- John Gielgud as Pope Pius V
- Daniel Craig as John Ballard
- Eric Cantona as Monsieur de Foix
- James Frain as Álvaro de la Quadra
- Edward Hardwicke as Henry FitzAlan, 19th Earl of Arundel
- Jamie Foreman as Earl of Sussex
- Terence Rigby as Bishop Stephen Gardiner
- Angus Deayton as Waad, Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Amanda Ryan as Lettice Howard
- Kenny Doughty as Sir Thomas Elyot
- George Yiasoumi as Philip II of Spain
- Wayne Sleep as Dance Tutor
- Alfie Allen as Arundel's Son
- Lily Allen as Lady-in-waiting
The costuming and shot composition of the coronation scene are based on Elizabeth's coronation portrait.
Cate Blanchett was chosen to play Elizabeth after Kapur saw a trailer of Oscar and Lucinda. 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 vain) that the Pope's accent should be Italian; he added that every British actor within earshot was horrified that any director was asking Sir John Gielgud to speak in an accent that "wasn't John Gielgud".
The film was received well by critics and the public, it holds an 81% "fresh" rating on film aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes based on 59 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."
- 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
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; it 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: Best British Film (Alison Owen, Tim Bevan), Best 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)
- 4th 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), Best 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)
This film's sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), also directed by Shekhar Kapur, starring Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I, and featuring Geoffrey Rush as Francis Walsingham, deals with latter part of Elizabeth's reign and another love interest that was not to come to fruition (Walter Raleigh).
- "Arts: Her Brilliant Career" independent.co.uk
- "Elizabeth". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
- 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 8 August 2011.
- "Awards Database - The BAFTA site". Bafta. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- "The BFCA Critics' Choice Awards :: 1998". Bfca.org. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- "Chicago Film Critics Awards - 1998-07". Chicagofilmcritics.org. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Awards IMDb
- "The 1999 Golden Globe Award Winners - RopeofSilicon.com Award Show Central". Ropeofsilicon.com. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- "National Board of Review of Motion Pictures :: Awards". Nbrmp.org. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- "Online Film Critics Society". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Academy Awards, USA IMDb
- "Awards Database - The BAFTA site". Bafta. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Film Critics Awards IMDb
- Golden Globes IMDb
- Satellite Awards IMDb
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