Studio: Universal Studios
US Rating: R - Violence and Sexuality
Film Length: 2hr 4minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Video Resolution/Codec: 1080p/VC-1
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD, English Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, French Dolby Digital PLus 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English SDH and French
The Film - out of
Shekhar Kapur has crafted in Elizabeth an engrossing and gripping film set during the tumultuous times in which young princess Elizabeth, half-sister to the dying Queen Mary, came to the throne. At a time when the English Monarchy was bound deeply to the Catholic faith and the sway of the Pope, Elizabeth was imprisoned as a heretic for her Protestant beliefs. But with the passing of Queen Mary, this young and beautiful princess, hated by detractors of her beliefs, was crowned the Queen of England, though her reign was far from certain. This film explores the molding of the Elizabeth that history has captured, through events that are based heavily on chronicled facts and interpretations of historical conjecture. As Elizabeth struggles in the infancy of her time as Queen, she must deal with threats to her sovereignty from forces both foreign and domestic. She is courted by a Prince from France and the King of Spain (via emissary) in an effort to create political allegiance and strength for those nations. This takes place at a time when England is suffering from a fracturing of beliefs (Catholic versus Protestant), a diminished army and barely any coins in the national coffers. Conspiracy, trickery and treason are abound.
History serves to not only enlighten us on events and people of years and centuries past, but to instruct us and inform us on the nature of nations and humanity in their contemporary states. This film has that understanding. By not showing us this world as a simple costume drama, but rather a timeless drama set against the backdrop of divided England, the film maintains a passion and relevance. The drama of showing Elizabeth as she slowly change from a youthful and innocent woman to the detached and cold but compassionate ‘Virgin Queen’, is a fascinating account.
The single most marvelous aspect of this film is the phenomenal performance by Cate Blanchett as the vulnerable yet commanding Queen. She provides a performance that has such range and intensity that she is very much the standard by which any future performance of a historical monarch must be evaluated. She displays the virtues of this lady, slowly growing her confidence amidst treachery and turmoil, becoming more and more detached from the luxuries of normality. Elizabeth I is given to us as a Queen who mastered the politics of her early reign with a sly wit and an appeal to the pride and common sense of the English leaders. Her tenacity, mixed with a novice naivety, is so elegantly on display in Cate that this must be considered one of the finest performances of recent times.
The political machinations that permeate the early time of this Queen’s reign are brought to life with an outstanding cast. As Sir William Cecil, the Queens advisor, Richard Attenborough is passionate and kind; as her trusted protector and spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham, Geoffrey Rush is sublime, slithering into and out of scenes with a mastery of the acting craft. Joseph Fiennes plays Elizabeth’s rumored lover, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, ably displaying genuine affection and concern for his Queen, while being weak in ways that risk her safety. Christopher Eccleston is remarkably good as the viciously untrustworthy Duke of Norfolk. He fires the words of a true believer (of the wrong thing) onto the screen with an intensity and power that takes charge of every scene he is in. The remaining supporting roles, from Daniel Craig to the brief appearance of Sir John Gielgud as the Pope, are all perfectly played that this film is very nearly without fault.
Elizabeth is a film of unhindered magnificence. Shekhar’s fluid direction and Michael Hirsts’ flawless script become an impressive vision of an Elizabeth before she had transformed herself into the image we have of her today. Together with incredible sets, lighting, locations and costumes, the direction and script become a remarkable accomplishment in filmmaking. This is a dark tale, darkly yet vividly told. It is an absorbing tale of an uncertain Queen who struggled with the deceitfulness of those around her and the pain she felt from those that seeking to cause her harm. The transition of the caring and approachable monarch to the dispassionate and decisively powerful woman that history almost exclusively views her as, is splendidly told in this incredible film.
Universal Studios brings us this 1998 contender for the Academy Award for Best Film in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080p High Definition and encoded VC-1. This image is absolutely breathtaking. I can think of no finer presentation on HD than Elizabeth. None!
This film is saturated with vibrant and rich colors that have such dynamism that they leap off the screen. There is clarity beyond expectation in almost every frame, coming with a lifelike real look and feel that you could almost reach out and touch this Queen.
There are only a couple of fleeting moments where the image is softer than the rest or showing an unnatural grain, but they are so brief that they disappear as soon as they arrive. The picture clarity is uniformly excellent, even in the lower lit palace locations or the few scenes outside at night. The lush green of England is remarkable and the crispness of the cold stone building is just stunning.
Universal has graced Elizabeth with a stunning English Dolby TrueHD audio track, in addition to an English and French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. While there is a great deal of dialogue in the film, the emotion of scenes is often enhanced with David Hirschfelder’s luscious and appropriate score. The surrounds are dynamic, the bass used well and the center channel filled with Hirst’s script, delivering lines that capture the intricacies and subtleties of the language.
The brooding tone of the film comes through the speakers at just the right time to enhance the experience and help take us back, centuries ago, to an England in trouble.
Sneak Peek of Elizabeth: The Golden Age: – (5:50) – An extended trailer for the sequel to this incredible film.
The Making of Elizabeth : – (24:53) – This ‘making-of’ features conversations with the film’s director, writer, producer and stars. They cover the casting of the major characters and the approach to the subject matter. Geoffrey Rush is particularly enlightening in his conversation about taking on the role of Walsingham.
The writer, David Hirsh, discusses how he and the director needed to make conclusions of fact, to move the story forward, from some circumstantial historical evidence of events and activities that took place during the early years of Elizabeth’s reign.
Elizabeth Featurette : – (6:04) – Mostly a repeat of information covered in the making of, this again features conversations with the director and cast.
Feature Commentary with Director Shekhar Kapur : – The most notable characteristic of Shekhar’s commentary is his frankness. Here he discusses the process behind creating certain shots, the choices that went into setting up scenes, how to shoot them, how to light them and just how successful he feels he was in capturing them. He has an interesting perspective on the subject matter and just how he wished to convey the core of the story. It is clear from this commentary that Shekhar is a strong and intelligent director – and comforting that he is once again sitting in the director’s chair for Elizabeth: The Golden Age.
Theatrical Trailer : – (2:23)
Elizabeth, the story of liars, division, treason, trial and transformation, is outstanding and captures the viewer so completely, that a single viewing will never be enough. This Queen, surrounded by fools, fiends and friends, must overcome betrayals of the heart, assassination attempts and the overwhelming discontent with which her powerful enemies brim over. Cate Blanchett delivers a simply astonishing performance as Elizabeth, and is surrounded by the impressive accomplishments of all her fellow actors and the solid craftsmanship of a multitude of artistic skills, from writing and direction, to the cinematography, lighting and set designs, that she is merely the standout among a crowd of majesty.