Unification News for November 1998

Elizabeth - Film revue

Simon Kinney
Director: Shekhar Kapur

Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I, Richard Attenborough as Sir William Cecil, Geoffrey Rush as Sir Francis Walsingham, Joseph Fiennes as Lord Robert Dudley, and Sir John Guilgud as the Pope

‘Elizabeth’ is a vivid and powerful portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I and her rise to power as a young woman besieged by the political skullduggery and intrigue of sixteenth-century England. The division of Catholics and Protestants sets the tone for acute religious persecution, which brings the viewer into a state of shock for the first ten minutes of the film.

The most powerful idea that this film portrays is the seemingly ironic reality that the world needed democracy in order for the Messiah to be born. The treachery and murder that dominates this part of history, which is extraordinarily well portrayed in ‘Elizabeth’, makes it clear that any entrance of a Messianic figure into such a scandalous and often barbaric environment would have meant certain death. It is true to some degree that artistic pursuit flourished within monarchical systems, and Elizabeth’s court boded well for European writers and composers in general as Elizabethan England grew to become the most powerful nation in the world under her forty four year rule.

However the seat of power and education was corrupted from within, to a level where divergence from the letter of the law meant in many instances, execution or exile. This tradition was to a certain extent established by Elizabeth’s own father, Henry the VIII, when his most trusted political advisor, Thomas More was put to death for following his own conscience. More had disagreed with Henry’s desire for a divorce in order to try and gain an heir to the throne through a second marriage.

To whit it must be pointed out that the Family is not a neutral state of bliss devoid of forbearance, but a blazing white hot amalgamation of history, in all its glorious splendor, complicated treachery and social misdemeanors.

Never would I take my children to this film, apart from the fact that it is rated R, but for the sake of feeling the gravity of the present, it is definitely a film that cannot be missed.

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