Elizabeth [1998]

In 1998's Elizabeth, Shekhar Kapur added a layer of suds to his history lesson; the director follows the same audience-pleasing recipe in Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Since the first film, Blanchett scored an Oscar for her note-perfect rendition of Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, and she plays the preternaturally bemused monarch in a similar fashion. By 1585, Elizabeth I is an experienced ruler about to face two of her biggest challenges: betrayal by her Catholic cousin, Mary Stuart (Control's Samantha Morton), and invasion by the Spanish Armada. It isn't so much that the Protestant Elizabeth wishes to rid England of "papists," but that she wants her country to remain free from foreign domination. Closer to her home, she enjoys a sisterly relationship with lady-in-waiting Bess (rising Aussie star Abbie Cornish). That changes when Sir Walter Raleigh (a dashing Clive Owen) hits the scene. In order to continue exploring the New World, he seeks the queen's sponsorship. She is charmed, but Raleigh only has eyes for Bess. As in the previous picture, Elizabeth enjoys better luck at affairs of state than affairs of the heart, but the conclusion is more beatific than before (and Kapur intends a third installment if Blanchett is willing). Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a rush of royal intrigue, bloody torture, fantastic headpieces, and irresistibly ripe dialogue, like "I have a hurricane in me that will strip Spain bare if you dare to try me!" To Kapur, victory for the Virgin Queen was a viable alternative to sex. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Beyond Elizabeth - The Golden Age on DVD More from Cate Blanchett British Royalty on DVD More Drama from Universal Studios Stills from Elizabeth - The Golden Age (click for larger image)

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