My father and I just returned from seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and I have to say that I have been colored rather unimpressed. Visually, the film was outstanding, with some lush costumes and beautiful scenery, but the film itself was scattered and rather overwrought. It felt almost as though the goal was to keep viewers in a state of constant, swelling tension, which was poorly released at the end of the film with a saccharine baby scene in which Elizabeth looked perilously like the Virgin Mary.
As my father put it, the film was fragmented, and I imagine that for people who aren’t familiar with this period in English history, it would have been really confusing. Complex characters flashed on and off screen in a flurry of fine fabrics, but no one was really introduced or given depth. Many of these characters were quite interesting people in their day, and I was disappointed to see that the film paid them little heed, so that it could skip back to a catfight between Elizabeth and Bess Throckmorton, or a torture scene in the dungeons. It’s a pity, really, because I thought that the actors did a decent job, although they were a bit overwrought themselves. I’ve always rather liked Kate Blanchett, too, and it’s hard not to be overwrought in a film like that.
My father pointed out that the score and cinematography were eerily reminiscent of Titanic, what with the strange camera angles and drawn out scenes. The execution of Mary Stuart seemed to take about an hour, rife with historically accurate Catholic symbolism, and don’t even get me started on the Spanish Armada. In fact, for a moment I thought they might have actually used footage from Titanic, for a generic men floating in the water with sad music scene. But I might have been mistaken.
It’s always so disappointing when you expect a movie to be excellent and it turns out to be mediocre. Especially since the first Elizabeth was rather good. I’m dying to see them make a third film; they should be able to get some nice bathos out of Elizabeth’s death scene, especially when they cut the royal seal off her hand.
I was also disappointed that they didn’t use my favorite Elizabeth quote: “I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”