Thursday, April 28, 2005


I watched this movie today, that Chris had dubbed for me. Cate Blanchett made a superb young Elizabeth. I loved the costumes and settings, having recently read three Elizabethan historial novels this year, including Philippa Gregory's 'The Virgin's Lover', which is what this movie should have been based on!

But the problem with knowing your history too well is like the problem of having just read the novel - you end up getting frustrated at the changes made. Enough things were wrong that I knew of, that I found myself strongly mistrusting many things. It started out accurately enough, althoug I wondered why they missed out the bit about Leicester being in the tower with her. And although whats-his-name Fiennes made a very fall-in-love-able Robert, it did annoy me that he didn't seem to have learned how to button his jerkin. Okay, that makes the rather ridiculous Elizabethan mens' costume a little sexier, but surely an aristrocratic man would not be seen in public in such a state of undress?

And the biggest glaring fault was having her act all shocked when Cecil 'informed' her of Robert's marriage - she knew all along! And they missed out the bit about his wife's suspicious death, which would have made such a good story. That's the real rub - this is such an interesting period in history, and Elizabeth a fascinating woman who lead a very dramatic life - there is no need to make things up!

They seem to have combined an early Papist plot to have her killed off, with a much later plot involving Norfolk and Mary Queen of Scots, and chucked in her apparent assassination of Mary of Guise for good measure. A quick look at my history book tells me that although Norfolk was indeed beheaded, Arundel was pardoned. Leicester was involved after her continued reluctance to marry even after his wife's death. He ended up marrying one of her ladies.

And I thought the sudden transformation from the charming but flightly young queen to the flinty Gloriana was a bit contrived. She didn't just decide to chop her hair off one day, she was very vain about it and tried to hide for ages that it had lost its beauty and she wore a wig. The change in her make-up and costume were gradual too, and I don't think she just realized one day (or was told) that she should become an Protestant alternative to Mary.

They depicted her as lacking confidence, which is only to be expected in the early years of her reign. But I liked her speech to Parliament, when you get to see the shrewd politician she will become. Philippa Gregory comes to a different conclusion about why Cecil left. And notes that he returned.

Anyway, I have more reading to do.

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