ElizabethNovember 22, 1998
A film of the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch.
Release Year: 1998
Rating: 7.6/10 (43,326 voted)
Critic's Score: 75/100
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston
This film details the ascension to the throne and the early reign of Queen Elizabeth the First, as played by Cate Blanchett. The main focus is the endless attempts by her council to marry her off, the Catholic hatred of her and her romance with Lord Robert Dudley.
Sir Francis Walsingham
Duke of Norfolk
Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Sir William Cecil
Mary of Guise
Monsieur de Foix
Queen Mary Tudor
Earl of Arundel
Declared illegitimate aged 3. Tried for treason aged 21. Crowned Queen aged 25.
Release Date: 22 November 1998
Filming Locations: Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, England, UK
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: £166,174
(4 October 1998)
(5 September 1999)
Did You Know?
Elizabeth enters the Tower of London through The Traitor's Gate from the river Thames.
As Elizabeth is being arrested, Robert Dudley's gold chain suddenly disappears from around his neck.
[regarding Elizabeth's impending reign]
Your Grace, Protestants are already returning from abroad.
Yes. And have made plans to massacre every Catholic in England. There would be butchery indeed if such a plan were even conceivable.
They say Walsingham will return from France.
Walsingham is nothing!
[aside to Norfolk's Man as he is leaving the room]
Be sure he does not.
Elizabeth could have unfolded in front of me all day and I would have remained enraptured.
England. 1555. Henry VIII has snuffed it from gout or syphilis, it depends
on who you read, Bloody Mary's got a tumour and the Catholics' greatest fear
is Anne Boleyn's daughter Elizabeth. Director Kapur has brought to the
screen some of the most intriguing moments in English history and the result
Following recent grandiose French historical epics, such as the glorious
Ridicule, Elizabeth more than holds its own as a no-holds barred, gripping
English extravaganza. Historians across the land will no doubt pick holes in
the accuracy, but it hardly matters.
The opening scene signals the film's intent. Protestant heretics are burnt
mercilessly at the grisly stake, accompanied by proclamations that they
should burn in Hell. It's clear that England is in a pretty gloomy state and
ruled by a humourless zealot, Mary (the ubiquitous Kathy Burke), who is
hell-bent on converting or murdering Elizabeth: "My sister was born a whore
of that Ann Boleyn."
Cheery Mary rules a poor, remote island that is very likely to become the
next possession of the growing empire of Spain. She is surrounded by rebels
who want to place the Protestant Elizabeth on the throne. So, Mary gets her
trusted Lord Norfolk (Eccleston cuts an impressive presence; you can imagine
this man swishing on the battlefield) to arrest Lizzy and dispatch her to
the Tower of London.
The camerawork and the pace of this film are breathtaking. Kapur directs
with ambitious panache, whilst supplying more than a wink to Coppola's The
Godfather in the process. Two scenes in particular reek of the Mafia
masterpiece: one in the Vatican, the other a succession of assassinations
sparked by the majesty's demand, "let it all be done". Pure Pacino.
If you shimmy past the slightly silly inclusions of the likes of Eric
Cantona (the IKEA School of Acting) and Angus Deayton, and the fact that
Dickie Attenborough (plays a fussy sidekick who sniffs the Queen's bedsheets
and claims, "her body belongs to the State") is starting to resemble an
Ewok, the acting is otherwise splendid.
Cate Blanchett not only resembles the great lady, but imparts her with
enormous affection (her love of Lord Dudley, played by Fiennes, is tenderly
dealt with) and delivers her lines with a steely intelligence, "I do not see
why a woman must marry at all" and "I'm no man's Elizabeth" . Her
performance is a revelation and if it weren't for Geoffrey Rush she would
have stolen every scene. However, the Shine star, playing her demonic
sidekick Walsingham, delights in creeping in the shadows and pulling the
devilish strings. A positively Machiavellian turn and worthy of another
This is a history film made at its very finest and the equal of A Man For
All Seasons. Elizabeth could have unfolded in front of me all day and I
would have remained enraptured. Intoxicating imagery ("English blood on
French colours" the wicked Mary of Guise, Ardant, proclaims), naughty
shenanigans, dastardly deeds, an epic tale and a superb cast. Stunning