Elizabeth (movie)

Elizabeth is a British film director Indian Shekhar Kapur , released in 1998 , on the life of the Queen of England Elizabeth re .

It evokes the ascent to the throne of England of Queen Elizabeth I re (1533-1603) played by Cate Blanchett . Several famous actors are part of the cast, like Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough. A sequel was made in 2007 , also by Shekhar Kapur : Elizabeth: The Golden Age , whose action is 30 years later.

This film has made Australian actress Cate Blanchett famous around the world. She has won several awards for her portrait of Elizabeth, including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe in 1998. The film was nominated in the best British film section at the 1998 BAFTA. Elizabeth was nominated in seven categories at the Oscar ceremony, including the best film and the best actress. He received the Oscar for best makeup.

The film shows the throne of the young Elizabeth after the death of his half-sister Mary re , who had imprisoned. His reign over a divided and ruined kingdom is perceived as weak and threatened by the invasion of France or Spain from the Habsburgs. For the future stability and security of the crown, his adviser William Cecil press her to get married. His suitors are the Catholic Philip II of Spain or the French Henry, Duke of Anjou. She is still in a relationship with the very inappropriate Robert Dudley.

Elizabeth must also fight against internal threats, such as those coming from the powerful Fourth Duke of Norfolk and the armies of Mary of Guise, garrisoned in Scotland. She faces Roman plots led by Pope Pius V. Supported by her spy master Francis Walsingham, she puts an end to both internal and external threats, ruthlessly executing the plotters. Elizabeth finally puts an end to her affair and resolves to marry no one except England. The film ends on an Elizabeth adopting the character of Virgin Queen and declaring: “I am married to England”, initiating the golden age of England.


Daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn , Elizabeth is declared illegitimate on the death of her mother, beheaded for high treason in 1536 .

In 1558 , while reigning over England , the daughter of Catherine of Aragon , first wife of Henry VIII , Marie Tudor , is diagnosed with a cancer of the uterus. Catholics, who have not given an heir, fear that his half-sister Elizabeth, who is Protestant, will succeed him. They convince her to have her arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London , but Mary refuses, and at her death, Elizabeth becomes queen.

She must in turn find a suitor to have a Protestant heir to prevent the throne from returning to the hands of Catholics, and face the ambitions and betrayals that punctuate life at court. His own cousin, the Catholic Duke of Norfolk , plotted for his assassination with the Queen of Scotland , Marie de Guise . This plot is supported by the pope.

One of his most faithful advisers, Sir William Cecil urges her to find a husband, and insists on introducing him to the Duke of Anjou , future King of France under the name of Henry III. But Elizabeth , claiming to be free and independent, refuses the advances of her many contenders because of her love for Robert Dudley , her childhood friend.

A counselor to the queen murders Marie de Guise. The plot of the Duke of Norfolk is foiled, many intriguers are beheaded. Dudley is spared by the queen, so that he reminds her of how close she was to the danger. Once these enemies are eliminated, the queen decides not to consider the wedding rings any more, and proclaims to be married to England.

Technical sheet

  • Title: Elizabeth
  • Director: Shekhar Kapur
  • Scenario: Michael Hirst
  • Music: David Hirschfelder
  • Photography: Remi Adefarasin
  • Editing: Jill Bilcock
  • Sets: John Myhre and Jonathan Lee
  • Costumes: Alexandra Byrne
  • Production: Tim Bevan , Liza Chasin , Eric Fellner , Debra Hayward , Alison Owen
  • Production Company: Working Title Films , Polygram Filmed Entertainment , Channel Four Films
  • Distribution Company: Gramercy Pictures (USA); PolyGram Film Distribution (France)
  • Budget: 30 million 1
  • Filming locations: England 2
  • Country of origin: United Kingdom
  • Original languages: English , French , Latin
  • Format: colors – 1.37: 1 – DTS – 35 mm
  • Genre: biographical , historical
  • Duration: 124 minutes
  • Release dates:
    • United Kingdom :
    • France :
    • United States :


  • Blanchett : Elizabeth re
  • Abbie Cornish : “Bess” Elizabeth Raleigh born Throckmorton
  • Clive Owen : Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Geoffrey Rush : Sir Francis Walsingham
  • Christopher Eccleston : The Duke of Norfolk
  • Joseph Fiennes : Robert Dudley , st Earl of Leicester
  • Richard Attenborough : Sir William Cecil
  • Fanny Ardant : Marie de Guise
  • Vincent Cassel : Henri of Anjou
  • Éric Cantona : Mr. de Foix, Ambassador of France
  • Jean Pierre Léaud
  • Daniel Craig : John Ballard
  • Kathy Burke : Marie Tudor
  • John Gielgud : the pope
  • Edward Hardwicke : Henry FitzAlan , 19 th Earl of Arundel
  • Emily Mortimer : Kat Ashley
  • Rod Culbertson : The Ridley Master
  • Amanda Ryan : Lettice Howard
  • George Yiasoumi : Philip II of Spain
  • James Frain : Alvaro de la Quadra, Ambassador of Spain
  • Jamie Foreman : The Earl of Sussex
  • Kelly Macdonald : Isabel Knollys
  • Angus Deayton : Waad, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Paul Fox : Male Martyr

Around the film

The same year, the actors Joseph Fiennes ( Robert Dudley ) and Geoffrey Rush ( Francis Walsingham ) also starred in Shakespeare in Love , respectively the roles of William Shakespeare and Philip Henslowe , movie in which Queen Elizabeth re is played by Judi Dench . During the 71 th Academy Awards ceremony which took place in 1999 , the two actresses who played the role of Queen Elizabeth re , Cate Blanchett inElizabeth and Judi Dench in Shakespeare in Love were named respectively best actress and best actress in a secondary role (Oscar that Judi Dench finally won).

The poem that recites Robert Dudley in Elizabeth is a sonnet written by Philip Sidney , son of Francis Walsingham , Queen’s Counsel 3 .

This was the last film of John Gielgud ( Julius Caesar , The Crime of the Orient-Express , Elephant Man , Shine ), who interprets Pope 3 here .


The costumes and props of the coronation scene are inspired by Elizabeth’s coronation portrait of Elizabeth Coronation of Elizabeth

Cate Blanchett was chosen to perform Elizabeth after Kapur had seen a trailer of Oscar and Lucinda .

According to the director’s commentary, Kapur mentioned that the role of the pope (played by John Gieguld) was first proposed to Marlon Brando, who accepted. However, this decision was revised when Kapur realized that many people would probably be embarrassed to share the set with Brando for two days. Later, after Gieguld took over the role, Kapur suggested, in vain, that the Pope’s accent should be Italian; all the British actors who were present were horrified that a director asked John Gielgud to speak with an accent that “was not that of John Gielgud”.

Much of the indoor shooting, representing the Royal Palace, was done in various locations in Durham Cathedral – recognizable by its unique nave.


The film premiered in September 1998 at the Venice Film Festival , where it received the Max Factor Award for Best Makeup, awarded to Jenny Shircore .

He reported 82,150,642 $ worldwide, for an initial budget of 30 million 1 .

In comparison to the box office, the film is rated 81% on the Rotten Tomatoes website , gathering 59 critics 4 and is rated at 3.6 / 5 for 845 ratings on the site of Allociné 5 .

The critic of the Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert wrote:

“Through the eyes of Indian director Shekhar Kapur, Elizabeth is not a theater masterpiece, but a mixture of rich and saturated colors and emotions. The texture of the film is to recommend alone, even separated from the story. “

– Roger Ebert 6 , Chicago Sun-Times ,.

The site of the British television channel BBC published in 2000 the following criticism:

“Despite the shining eyes and sumptuous ornaments of the court, this intelligent historical drama skilfully avoids the swamps of nostalgic fantasies. Director Kapur gets the best of an exceptional cast and offers us both a romantic atmosphere and a mature exploration of a theme of importance – the dark hypocrisy, betrayal and unhealthy ambition that reigned during this period bloodthirsty in Great Britain. “

– Matt Ford 7 , BBC ,.

In addition, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has described the film as “anti-Catholic,” considering that it gives the “impression that religious conflicts were all of the Catholic Church “. In addition, the League relies on criticism from the New York Times , which also claimed that the film was “resolutely anti-Catholic” 8 , all complemented by a ” scheming pope “, and she repeated that another newspaper, the Buffalo News wrote that “every Catholic in the film is dark, cruel and devious” 9 .


The soundtrack was composed by David Hirschfelder :

  1. Elizabeth: Overture – 4:44
  2. Love Theme: Arrest – 3:08
  3. Tonight I Think I Die – 4:22
  4. Walsingham – 2:05
  5. Night Of The Long Knives – 4:12 (adapted from William Byrd’s composition )
  6. Coronation Banquet – 6:34
  7. Love Theme – 1:48
  8. Aftermath – 5:19
  9. Parliament – 4:08
  10. Rounds – 4:32
  11. Conspiracy – 3:21
  12. Ballard – 3:53
  13. One Mistress, No Master – 4:25
  14. Nimrod – 4:30 (taken from Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar )
  15. Requiem – 5:10 (by Mozart )

The album won the BAFTA for Best Film Music , and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Film Music .



  • Movie Oscars : Best Makeup for Jenny Shircore
  • BAFTA Awards : best British film, Best Actor in a minor role for Geoffrey Rush , Best Actress in a leading role for Cate Blanchett , Best Movie Music for David Hirschfelder , Best Photography for Remi Adefarasin , Best Makeup and Hairstyles for Jenny Shircore
  • Critics Choice Awards : best actress for Cate Blanchett , best revelation for Joseph Fiennes )
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Awards : Best Actress for Cate Blanchett
  • Empire Awards : Best Actress for Cate Blanchett
  • Golden Globes : best actress in a drama for Cate Blanchett
  • London Critics Circle Film Awards : Actress of the Year for Cate Blanchett , British Production of the Year
  • Venice Film Festival : best makeup for Jenny Shircore
  • National Board of Review : Best Director for Shekhar Kapur )
  • Online Film Critics Society Awards : Best Actress for Cate Blanchett
  • Satellite Awards : best costumes for Alexandra Byrne , best actress in a drama for Cate Blanchett


  • Oscars of the cinema : best film; best actress in a leading role for Cate Blanchett ; best artistic direction for John Myhre and Peter Howitt ; best photograph for Remi Adefarasin ; best costumes for Alexandra Byrne ; best movie music for David Hirschfelder
  • Art Directors Guild : Best Art Direction for John Myhre , Lucy Richardson , Poppy Luard and Jonathan Lee
  • BAFTA Awards : Best Film, Best Director for Shekhar Kapur , Best Original Screenplay for Michael Hirst , Best Costume for Alexandra Byrne , Best Editing for Jill Bilcock , Best Art Direction for John Myhre
  • Critics Choice Awards : Best Movie
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Awards : Best Photography for Remi Adefarasin ; best original music for David Hirschfelder
  • Golden Globes : best director for Shekhar Kapur , best drama
  • MTV Movie Awards : Female revelation of the year for Cate Blanchett
  • Satellite Awards : Best Director for Shekhar Kapur ; best dramatic film; best art direction for John Myhre
  • Screen Actors Guild Awards : Best Actress in a Leading Role for Cate Blanchett

Historical inaccuracies

The film takes a lot of liberties with the story, to privilege the dramatic effect.

Inaccurate behaviors or relationships

  • The central theme of the film is the rapid transformation of the romantic young woman into a virgin queen austere, a role that Elizabeth reluctantly endorses in its desire to secure its position of power. In fact, the cult of the virgin queen actually took effect after the last marriage proposal made to Elizabeth about twenty years after her accession to the throne. Elizabeth’s failure to marry was portrayed as a sacrificial act, with the aim of protecting England from possible foreign intrusions. Following this artistic theme, Elizabeth in the film puts an end to all her personal or romantic relationships, retaining only that which binds her to Walsingham’s Machiavellian character. The historical details of his life are used, especially his close relationship with Dudley,
  • At the end of the film, Elizabeth decides to shave her head to look like a virgin. In reality, she never shaved or cut her hair. One day someone entered her room without knowing that she was still in bed, and reported that the queen’s hair was “all around her ears.” In the film, she is shown wearing a wig, and although the real Elizabeth actually wore one in her life, it was to hide her thin, scattered hair as a result of her fight against smallpox.
  • In the film, Robert Dudley is Elizabeth’s lover; however, even though their relationship was romantic, it was never certified that she was sexual. In any case, as he had married a few years after the death of Henry VIII, Elizabeth would have voluntarily had sex with a married man. The film shows that she ends this relationship when she discovers that Dudley is married.
  • The film shows Robert Dudley flirting and later having sex with Lettice Knollys. In reality, Lettice was married to Walter Devereux at this time, and although she briefly flirted with Dudley, she returned to her husband to whom she gave many children, including Robert Devereux, Elizabeth’s future favorite. In fact, no relationship between Dudley and Knollys took place before 1573, at least.
  • In the film, Kat Ashley is a companion, the same age as Elizabeth and has a great friendship with her. In fact, Ashley was 31 years older than Elizabeth, she was his housekeeper and Elizabeth remained devoted to her until her death.
  • William Cecil was not yet forty at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, unlike his film portrait where he is represented as older. He was not dismissed by the young queen either. He remained one of his most faithful advisers until his death, shortly before that of the queen.
  • Francis Walsingham was in his twenties when Elizabeth was crowned, he was not the middle-aged man played by Geoffrey Rush. His political influence is exaggerated in the film.
  • The Duke of Norfolk was a young man of 22 years when Elizabeth acceded to the throne, not thirty years as in the film. He was 36 when he was executed in 1572.

Inaccuracies in the timeline

  • In the film, Queen Mary re dies after a false pregnancy. In reality, Marie died three years after this nervous pregnancy, of a cancer of the ovaries.
  • The conspiracy of the Duke of Norfolk is a mixture of several events. In the film, he is arrested and summarily executed for attempting to supplant Elizabeth and marry Mary, Queen of Scotland, to consolidate his taking of the throne. In reality, Norfolk was jailed in 1569 for attempting to marry Mary, Queen of Scotland, without permission, but was eventually released. He was then involved in Ridolfi’s plot in 1572 (three years later) to put Mary, Queen of Scotland, on the throne. He was judged and executed. Unlike the portrait that is made of him in the film, where he appears as a powerful and unscrupulous man, he was in fact a weak man, easily manipulated by others.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a and b (in) box office of Elizabeth on Box Office Mojo  [ archive ] . Accessed September 2, 2009.
  2. ↑ (en) Filming locations on the IMDB  [ archive ] . Accessed September 2, 2009.
  3. ↑ a and b (in) Anecdotes about the IMDB  [ archive ] . Accessed September 3, 2009.
  4. ↑ (in) Elizabeth on Rotten Tomatoes  [ archive ] . Accessed October 2014.
  5. ↑ (en) Critics viewers of Elizabeth on Allociné  [ archive ] . Accessed October 2014.
  6. ↑ (in) Criticism of Magnolia on the site of Roger Ebert  [ archive ] . Accessed September 2, 2009.
  7. ↑ (in) Review Elizabeth on the BBC website  [ archive ] . Accessed September 2, 2009.
  8. ↑ (in) Janet Maslin, critic Elizabeth in the New York Times  [ archive ] . Accessed September 3, 2009.
  9. ↑ (in) “Elizabeth” is “resolutely anti-catholic” Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights  [ archive ] . Accessed September 3, 2009.

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