Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a 2007 biographical film, sequel to the 1998 film Elizabeth directed by Shekhar Kapur and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton, Jordi Molla and William Houston.
The film is based on the mid years of Elizabeth I's reign, known as "The Golden Age of England".
The film won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and Blanchett received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a motion picture.
- Directed by: Shekhar Kapur
- Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Jonathan Cavendish
- Written by: William Nicholson, Michael Hirst
- Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Abbie Cornish, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton.
- Music by: A.R. Rahman, Craig Armstrong
- Cinematography: Remi Adefarasin
- Edited by: Jill Bilcock
- Country: United Kingdom, Spain, France
- Language: English, Spanish, French, German
- Running time: 114 minutes
- Budget: $50-60 million
- Box Office: $74 million
- Release date: October 12, 2007
- Distributed by: Universal Pictures
In 1585, Catholic Spain ruled by King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Molla) is the most powerful country in Europe. Seeing Protestant England as a threat, and in retaliation for English piracy of Spanish ships, Philip declares war plotting a conspiracy within England. He plans to take over England, and make his daughter Isabella the Queen of England in Elizabeth's place.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth I of England (Cate Blanchett) is being pressured to marry by her advisor, Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush). She is ageing and, with no child, the throne will pass to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton).
The Queen is presented with portraits of appropriate suitors, but Elizabeth refuses to marry, particularly to the Charles II, Archduke of Austria (Christian Brassington), who has become infatuated with the Queen.
Later on, english explorer Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) is presented at Elizabeth's court, having returned from the New World, and offers her potatoes, tobacco, two Native Americans, and gold from Spanish ships that he claims were "unable to continue their journey". Elizabeth commands that the Native Americans be treated well, and refuses to accept the gold fron piracy.
Elizabeth is attracted to Raleigh, enthralled by his tales of exploration, and asks Bess Throckmorton (Abbie Cornish), her most favoured lady-in-waiting, to observe him. Bess also finds Raleigh attractive and secretly begins an affair with him.
Elizabeth seeks guidance from her astrologer, Dr. John Dee (David Threlfall) who predicts that two empires will go to war. However, he cannot predict which will triumph over the other, leaving Elizabeth to ponder her and England's fate.
Meanwhile Jesuits in London conspire with King Philip II of Spain to assassinate Elizabeth and replace her with Mary, in what Philip calls "The English Enterprise". From her imprisonment, Mary sends secret correspondence to the Jesuits, who recruit Anthony Babington (Eddie Redmayne) to assassinate Elizabeth. Walsingham continues to warn Elizabeth of Spain's rising power and of the Catholic plots against her. However she, unlike her predecessor and half sister Mary I of England, refuses to force her people to share her beliefs.
Even then, those conspiring against Elizabeth are being hunted and murdered, including Bess's cousin, whom Bess had failed to protect. After learning of her cousin's torture and death at Walsingham's hands, Bess turns to Raleigh for comfort.
The barely hidden closeness of Bess and Raleigh causes tension between them, testing her desire to keep him in England and increasing his desire to go back to the New World.
Walsingham's brother, a Papist, knows of the plot against Elizabeth. It is revealed that Walsingham had known of the plot all along, intercepting letters, and his brother is jailed. He reveals the plot to Elizabeth, who angrily confronts the Spanish diplomats.
The Spanish ambassador feigns ignorance and accuses Elizabeth of receiving Spanish gold from pirates and insinuating a sexual relationship with Raleigh. A sword fight nearly ensues between the queen's male escorts and the Spanish contingent. She throws the Spaniards out of court.
Meanwhile, Philip is cutting the forests of Spain to build the Spanish Armada to invade England. Mary writes letters condoning the plot. Babington storms into a cathedral where Elizabeth is praying and points a gun at her. Elizabeth opens her arms, seemingly fearless. He pulls the trigger, and the gun fires. At first Walsingham is unable to discern why the gun was harmless, though it is later revealed by the traitor in the torture chamber that there was no bullet in the gun.
Elizabeth learns of Mary's involvement, and Walsingham insists she be executed to quell any possible revolt. Elizabeth is reluctant, but nevertheless agrees.
Mary is tried for high treason. She is beheaded, ascending the block in a blood-red dress, red being the Catholic liturgical color for martyrs. Walsingham sees that this was part of the Jesuit's plan all along. Philip had never intended Mary to become queen, but since the Pope and other Catholic leaders regarded Mary as the true Queen of England, Philip uses Mary's death to obtain papal approval for war. The "murder" of the last legitimate Catholic in the line of succession gives Philip the pretext he needs to invade England and place his daughter on the throne as a puppet monarch.
In England, Raleigh asks to leave for the New World, which Elizabeth forbids, instead knighting him and making him Captain of the Royal Guard.
Bess discovers she is pregnant with Raleigh's child, and after telling him the news, she pleads with him to leave. He chooses not to, and the couple marry in secret. At the same time, Elizabeth awakes during a dream as the wedding is taking place. She confronts Bess a few weeks later, who confesses that she is indeed pregnant with Raleigh's child, and that Raleigh is her husband. An enraged Elizabeth berates Bess, slapping and beating her, reminding her that she cannot marry without royal consent. Feeling betrayed, the queen
banishes Bess from court and has Raleigh imprisoned for the crime of seducing a ward of the Queen.
Walsingham arranges for his brother William, to be released and taken to France on the condition that he must never return to England.
The Armada begins its approach up the English Channel, and Elizabeth forgives Bess and sets Raleigh free to join Sir Francis Drake in the battle.
Elizabeth gives her Speech to the Troops at Tilbury seated on a war horse wearing full plate armour. The Armada vastly outnumber England's, but at the last moment, a major storm blows the Armada towards the beaches, endangering their formation and ships. They drop anchor, and the Armada becomes a sitting duck for English fire ships. Elizabeth, back at her coastal headquarters, walks out to the cliffs and watches the Spanish Armada sink in flames.
Elizabeth visits Walsingham on his deathbed, telling her old friend to rest.
She then visits Raleigh and Bess and blesses their child. Elizabeth seemingly triumphs personally through her ordeal, again resigned to her role as the Virgin Queen and mother to the English people.
- Cate Blanchett - Queen Elizabeth I of England
- Geoffrey Rush - Sir Francis Walsingham
- Abbie Cornish - Bess Thorckmorton
- Clive Owen - Sir Walter Raleigh
- Samantha Morton - Mary, Queen of Scots
- Jordi Molla - King Phillip II of Spain
- William Houston - Guerau de Espés, Spanish Ambassador
- Eddie Redmayne - Anthony Babington
- David Threlfall - John Dee
- Adam Godley - Williams Walshingham
The original score was composed by Craig Armstrong and AR Rahman.
Rahman and Armstrong worked on the score after jamming sessions in the studio. The score was recorded in Scotland, in Armstrong's studio in Glasgow. Kapur was thrilled to have both Armstrong and Rahman working together on the music, saying it was fascinating to watch "two people with totally different backgrounds and cultures" interact.
Blanchett had travelled to India in the early 2000s, coming away with several Indian sounds, and badgered Kapur to get Rahman to score Hollywood movies. Antonio Pinto was mentioned as being a collaborator during production, but later Armstrong joined the project. In January 2009, he expressed regret that other compositions from A. R. Rahman were not used in the film, feeling that "the score of Golden Age was not half as good as it could have been." He expressed hope to hear these pieces appear in another project.
"Opening" from the score was used in the BBC's coverage of the Single's Finals at the 2008 Wimbledon Championships. "Storm" was used in the trailer of Man of Steel.
|2.||"Philip"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||1:51|
|3.||"Now You Grow Dull"||AR Rahman||0:57|
|5.||"Immensities"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:41|
|6.||"Bess and Raleigh Dance"||AR Rahman||2:34|
|7.||"Mary's Beheading"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||3:22|
|8.||"End Puddle / Possible Suitors"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:06|
|9.||"War / Realisation"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:57|
|10.||"Destiny Theme"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:31|
|11.||"Smile Lines"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||1:15|
|12.||"Bess to See Throckmorton"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||1:03|
|13.||"Dr Dee Part 1"||AR Rahman||3:18|
|14.||"Horseback Address"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:26|
|16.||"Love Theme"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:51|
|17.||"Divinity Theme"||AR Rahman||5:08|
|19.||"Walsingham Death Bed"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||1:51|
|20.||"Closing"||AR Rahman, Craig Armstrong||2:00|
Filming locations Edit
- Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire, England, UK (Raleigh's house exteriors)
- Brean Down, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, UK (Queen Elizabeth addresses her troops)
- Burghley House, Stamford, Lincolnshire, England, UK (John Dee's house exteriors/London alley/Paris street scene)
- Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, England, UK
- Dorney Court, Dorney, Buckinghamshire, England, UK (Raleigh's house/Walsingham's house/chapel
- Doune Castle, Doune, Stirling, Scotland, UK
- Eilean Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Highland, Scotland, UK
- Ely Cathedral, Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, UK (Whitehall Palace interior)
- Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, UK (Chartley Hall, also the interior of Walsingham's house)
- Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK (Chartley Hall/Whitehall exteriors)
- Petworth House, Petworth, West Sussex, England, UK (Windsor Great Park)
- Shepperton Studios, Shepperton, Surrey, England, UK
- St. Bartholomew's Hospital, London, England, UK (Fortheringay Castle/Chartley Hall interiors)
- St John's College, Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK (Whitehall Palace exteriors/Thames scenes)
- Wells Cathedral, Wells, Somerset, England, UK (Whitehall Palace interiors)
- Westminster Cathedral, Westminster, London, England, UK (Escorial Palace/Lisbon Cathedral interiors)
- Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire, England, UK (St. Paul's Cathedral/The Chapel Royal interiors/gallows scene)
Box Office performance Edit
Elizabeth: The Golden Age grossed $6.1 million in 2,001 theatres during its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, ranking #6 at the box office. In the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland the film entered at No. 4 and earned £1.3 million ($2.7 million) on its opening weekend. As of February 2009 the worldwide total was $74.2 million, including $16.4 million in the US and Canada and $57.8 million elsewhere.
In 1998, the preceding film, Elizabeth, opened in 9 theatres and grossed $275,131. Its widest release in the United States and Canada was in 624 theatres., and its largest weekend gross throughout its run in theatres was $3.4 million in 516 theatres, ranking No. 9 at the box office. The 1998 film Elizabeth went on to gross $30 million in the United States and Canada, and a total of $82.1 million worldwide.
Although Cate Blanchett's performance was highly praised, the film received generally mixed to negative reviews from US critics. As of 24 November 2007 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 34% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 145 reviews. On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 45 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, gave the film 1 star out of 5, remarking on the film's historical revisionism and melodrama. He writes: "Where Kapur's first Elizabeth was cool, cerebral, fascinatingly concerned with complex plotting, the new movie is pitched at the level of a Jean Plaidy romantic novel".
Roger Ebert gave the film 2½ stars out of 4, saying 'there are scenes where the costumes are so sumptuous, the sets so vast, the music so insistent, that we lose sight of the humans behind the dazzle of the production'. Ebert did, however, praise many of the actors' performances, particularly that of Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth I. He said 'That Blanchett could appear in the same Toronto Film Festival playing Elizabeth and Bob Dylan, both splendidly, is a wonder of acting'. Blanchett portrayed Bob Dylan in the film I'm Not There and was nominated for an Academy Award for her roles in both movies.
Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave the film 3 stars out of 4, writing '... as a pseudo-historical fable, a romantic triangle and a blood-and-thunder melodrama, the film can't be faulted' and 'This isn't historical fabrication, it's mutilation. But for all its lapses, this is probably the liveliest, most vibrant Elizabethan production since Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet.' while Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe said, "Historians might demand a little more history from Elizabeth: The Golden Age. But soap opera loyalists could hardly ask for more soap."
Michael Gove, speaking on BBC Two's Newsnight Review, said: 'It tells the story of England's past in a way which someone who's familiar with the Whig tradition of history would find, as I did, completely sympathetic. It's amazing to see a film made now that is so patriotic ... One of the striking things about this film is that it's almost a historical anomaly. I can't think of a historical period film in which England and the English have been depicted heroically for the last forty or fifty years. You almost have to go back to Laurence Olivier's Shakespeare's Henry V in which you actually have an English king and English armies portrayed heroically'. This was in fact incorrect, as Kenneth Branagh's film of that same play had appeared in 1989 and, although grittier in tone, portrayed the English and their king just as heroically as the Olivier version.
Awards and nominations Edit
At the 80th Academy Awards Alexandra Byrne won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design. Cate Blanchett was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the film, becoming the first female actor to receive another Academy Award nomination for the reprisal of the same role. Cate Blanchett was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for her performance in the film, and the Critic's Choice Award for Best Actress in a leading role, she was also nominated for a SAG Award. The film won two Satellite Awards for Best Production Design for Guy Hendrix Dyas and Best Costume Design for Alexandra Byrne. Guy Hendrix Dyas received a nomination from the Art Directors Guild for Best Production Design in a Period Film, and Alexandra Bryne a nomination from the Costume Designers Guild for Best Costume in a Period Film. The film was also nominated for four BAFTA awards including Actress in a Leading Role, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup.
At the 11th Pyongyang International Film Festival held on September 2008, one of the awards for special screening were conferred upon the film.