Elizabeth is a 1998 biographical film directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christoper Eccleston, Fanny Ardant and Vincent Cassel.
The is film 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.
- Directed by: Shekhar Kapur
- Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Alison Owen
- Written by: Michael Hirst
- Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston
- Music by: David Hirschfelder
- Cinematography: Remi Adefarasin
- Edited by: Jill Bilcock
- Country: United Kingdom
- Language: English
- Running time: 126 minutes
- Budget: $30 million
- Box Office: $82 million
- Release date: September 8, 1998
- Distributed by: Gramercy Pictures
The young Princess Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), daugther of the late King Henry VIII of England and Anne Boleyn, lives confined at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, since her sister Queen Mary (Kathy Burke) suspects of her being a protestant and conspirator against her Reign.
Elizabeth is finally accused formally of conspiracy and heresy, and is taken as a prisoner to the Tower of London. Elizabeth fervently protested her innocence and asks to see the Queen. Finally, Queen Mary decides to release her since she doesn't have any prove of Elizabeth being disloyal to her or being protestant and not Catholic.
In 1558, Queen Mary dies of a cancerous tumour in her uterus, leaving Elizabeth as Queen of England at the age of 25.
At first, her reign over a 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 (Richard Attenborough) to marry, and has some suitors.
So, from the start of Elizabeth's reign, it was expected she would marry and the question arose to whom. Elizabeth is first urged by Cecil to marry, who, as he states, would secure her throne: the future King Henry III of France, now Duke of Anjou (Vincent Cassel). Elizabeth however, knowing a that marriage with a member of a royal family from another country would risk a loss of power (like her sister who played into the hands of King Philip II of Spain), and also might provoke political instability or even insurrection, rejects the possibility of a marriage.
Instead, she has a secret affair with her childhood sweetheart, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Joseph Fiennes). The affair is, however, no secret from her chancellor William Cecil, who makes it clear that a monarch has no private life.
The first important measure she has to face as regent is a religious settlement: the Act of Uniformity, and Act she carefully prepares. Elizabeth and her advisers perceived the threat of a Catholic crusade against heretical
England. Elizabeth therefore sought a Protestant solution that would not offend Catholics too greatly while addressing the desires of English Protestants; she would not tolerate the more radical Puritans though, who were pushing for far-reaching reforms. As a result, the parliament of 1559 started to legislate for a church based on the Protestant settlement of Edward VI, with the monarch as its head, but with many Catholic elements, such as priestly vestments.
The House of Commons backed the proposals strongly, but the bill of supremacy met opposition in the House of Lords, particularly from the bishops. Elizabeth was fortunate that many bishoprics were vacant at the time, including the Archbishopric of Canterbury, however the reason of their absence was an ilegal imprisonment made by Elizabeth's counselor and "spymaster" Francis Wallshigan (Geoffrey Rush). This and the speech she would deliver to a recalcitrant Parliament enabled supporters amongst peers to outvote the bishops and conservative peers. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was forced to accept the title of Supreme Governor of the Church of England rather than the more contentious title of Supreme Head, which many thought unacceptable for a woman to bear. The new Act of Supremacy became law on 8 May 1559. All public officials were to swear an oath of loyalty to the monarch as the supreme governor or risk disqualification from office; the heresy laws were repealed, to avoid a repeat of the persecution of dissenters practised by Mary.
Besides this matter, Elizabeth deals with various threats to her reign, including a civil war against the supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots who was considered by many to be the heir to the English crown. Mary's mother, Mary of Guise (Fanny Ardant), brings French troops into Scotland to attack Elizabeth's forces when they invade. Elizabeth was persuaded to send a force into Scotland to aid the Protestant rebels, and though the campaign was inept, the resulting Treaty of Edinburgh of July 1560 removed the French threat in the north. When Mary returned to Scotland in 1561 to take up the reins of power, the country had an established Protestant church and was run by a council of Protestant nobles supported by Elizabeth.
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. She also becomes capable of occasional ruthless behaviour as in unflinchingly ordering the execution of those who she considers dangerous to her rule.
After Elizabeth's advisor Walsingham discovers that Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (Christopher Eccleston) and his catholic cousin De La Quadra are plotting with King Philip of Spain to dethrone her, she orders their arrest and execution.
Mary of Guise is also assassinated by Walsingham, who acted on unofficial orders from Elizabeth. 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 Ashley (Emily Mortimer) and assuming the vanilla-faced and gowned persona of the 'Virgin Queen', and initiating England's Golden Age. She sits down on her throne. The film ends with Elizabeth assuming the persona of the 'Virgin Queen', and saying: "I am married to England", initiating England's Golden Age.
- Cate Blanchett - Queen Elizabeth I of England
- Geoffrey Rush - Francis Walsingham
- Joseph Fiennes - Lord Robert Dudley
- Richard Attenborough - Sir William Cecil
- Christopher Eccleston - Thomas Howard, 4th
Duke of Norfolk
- Fanny Ardant - Mary of Guise
- Vincent Cassel - Henry of France, Duke of Anjou
- Daniel Craig - John Ballard
- Kathy Burke - Mary I of England
- Emily Mortimer - Kat Ashley
The album, composed by David Hirschfelder, won the BAFTA Award for Best Film Music and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Dramatic Score (lost to the score of the film La vita è bella).
- Elizabeth : Overture 4:44
- Love Theme - Arrest 3:08
- Tonight I Think I Die 4:22
- Walsingham 2:05
- Night Of The Long Knives 4:12 (adapted from a composition by William Byrd)
- Coronation Banquet 6:34
- Love Theme 1:48
- Aftermath 5:19
- Parliament 4:08
- Rondes 4:32
- Conspiracy 3:21
- Ballard 3:53
- One Mistress, No Master 4:25
- Nimrod 4:30 (from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar)
- Requiem 5:10 (by Mozart)
The costuming and shot composition of the coronation scene is 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.
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.
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.
The film was received well by critics and the public, it holds an 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.
- 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)
- 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), 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)