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United Kingdom 1998
Directed by
Shekhar Kapur
123 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars


The oft-filmed story of the rise to undisputed power of Queen Elizabeth I of England is here given The Godfather treatment in this sumptuous quasi-biographical telling by director Shakhar Kapur, whose previous brush with royalty had been with the effective Bandit Queen, 1994, the fact-based story of a female Robin Hood style Indian bandit.

As written by Michael Hirst and directed by Kapur, Elizabeth's story is one of ruthless politics and evil plotting on an international scale with the once-innocent princess being transformed from a full-blooded young woman with the world before her to a virgin Queen with it beyond her (effectively covering the Michael Corleone story in Coppola's trilogy). Historically accurate it may not be but drama it most certainly is and full credit goes to Kapur and his team. Whilst those encountering the story for the first time many may find the various intrigues hard to follow, my only criticisms, perhaps beside the point given the previous remarks, are the casting of the overly pretty Joseph Fiennes as Elizabeth's love interest and that it would have been nice had the various musical interludes sounded more authentic.

Despite seven nominations, the film was roundly ignored in the Oscars, the vastly inferior Shakespeare In Love (in which Geoffrey Rush also appeared) carrying off a good parcel of them, with, most unjustly, Gwyneth Paltrow winning the Oscar for Best Actress over Cate Blanchett. Aside from Blanchett and Rush, the Australian contingent was bolstered by the presence of Jill Bilcock (editor) and David Hirschfelder (music) who had worked together previously on Strictly Ballroom.




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