The Film Elizabeth
“Based on the story of the rise of young Elizabeth Tudor to Queen of
England, Elizabeth depicts the early life of a woman of independent
spirit who ascends to the throne in 1558 to a reign of intrigue and
betrayal. The conflict of private affairs and personal friendships
with her duty as a monarch to achieve national unity; form the basis
of a story that is both heart-breaking and inspiring…” – Alison Owen
Charles Barr referred to films which are set in and represent a
particular image of Britain, as heritage or period films. When viewing
this film, it was clear that certain conventions of the heritage film
genre can be applied to Elizabeth.
Throughout the film, certain characters are recognisable to the
audience as figures of British history due to a variety of different
details. For example, Elizabeth’s (Cate Blanchett) distinguished dress
code and appearance – the large dress and pearls are similar to that
seen in her portrait in the opening sequence of the film. Despite
this, the audience is shown how Elizabeth looked before she rose to
the throne in the sense she did not have her white face and bright
ginger hair, but she was much more fragile and delicate. Elizabeth
therefore challenges the idea that the queen was “hard” and “serious”
by showing her in states of vulnerability, intimacy and playfulness.
“…appearance at her coronation is closely based on a copy of a
painting in 1559 at the National Portrait Gallery…” – Moya Luchett.
Queen Mary (Kathy Burke) is a stereotype of a typical menacing ruler.
The audiences perception of her is manipulated by the settings in
which she is placed – her dark, cave-like court, her dress code –
black/dark colours, and her ‘ugliness’. However, she is nothing like
the portrait in the opening sequence. This shows how the director has
changed Mary in order to place the audience on the side of Elizabeth
by emphasising the ‘good and bad’ characters in the film.
Norfolk (Christopher Eccleston) is shown as a cliché in the sense his
bad character is recognised in a variety of ways. For example he has a
mistress; his dress code is dark and has a ‘rigid’ look to it. The
manner in which he storms around throughout the film emphasises the
authority and arrogance of this character. Norfolk in history is known
to have betrayed Elizabeth, and in his appearance, expression and the
way he carries himself, the audience are able to recognise this. The
authenticity and details to costumes are not completely true.
The costumes for example have been used to emphasise certain
characters personality as previously mentioned with Mary and Norfolk.
Another character who follows this is Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). He
wears open shirts with long billowing sleeves as his character is
meant to be the ‘romantic’ one, and his passionate...