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Nov. 25/98 (E)

................................................................. 6 nov 98 As usual, spoilers.... From the Australian... Elizabeth (MA) Reviewer: David Stratton IF nothing else, Elizabeth should establish Cate Blanchett on the international scene as a major movie star. She was born to play the great English queen and she powerfully conveys the fragility and the imperiousness of one of history's most fascinating women. There's never any doubt that, though she has the body of a weak woman, she has the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England, too. Blanchett's screen performances until now haven't come close to matching her stage work but Elizabeth is her triumph. Countless films have been made about the virgin queen. Bette Davis played her twice, memorably, in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex and The Virgin Queen; Flora Robson also had two shots at the character, in Fire Over England and The Sea Hawk; and who can forget Glenda Jackson's portrayal of the character in Mary, Queen of Scots? These fine actors played Elizabeth in her later years, when she was fully established as the most powerful woman on earth; Blanchett, like Jean Simmons in Young Bess, tackles Elizabeth at a more vulnerable period of her life, and covers the years in which her stepsister Mary (Kathy Burke) ruled England and the first couple of years of Elizabeth's long reign. They were, of course, turbulent times. Henry VIII, father of Mary and Elizabeth, had broken with the pope and formed the Church of England because he wanted to divorce Mary's mother, the devoutly Catholic Catherine of Aragon; Elizabeth's mother, Anne Boleyn, had been beheaded for adultery; the schism had led to a great deal of bloodshed, including the martyrdom of Catholic aristocrat Sir Thomas More. On Henry's death, Mary restored Catholicism to England in a welter of further bloodshed and had the Protestant Elizabeth kept under virtual house arrest. It is at this point, in 1554, that the film begins, with Elizabeth fearing for her life as she realises that Mary, who has no heir, is fiercely opposed to her stepsister following her as queen. Michael Hirst's sweeping screenplay encompasses the main events of the next few years – the illness and death of Mary (a commanding performance from Burke, last seen on the screen in Gary Oldman's Nil by Mouth) and the accession of Elizabeth. There is division among members of the court, with rival factions led by the Protestant old guard – represented by Sir William Cecil (Richard Attenborough), who informs his mistress that she has inherited a most parlous and degenerate State – and the Catholic dispossessed, among them the wily and dangerous Duke of Norfolk (Christopher Eccleston). The characters who will play vital roles in the drama also include the queen's fiery young lover, Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes) and the mercurial Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), whose loyalties are none too certain. Much is made of the pressure on Elizabeth to marry, though the queen states that she does not see why a woman should marry at all. This modern viewpoint, needless to say, is strongly opposed by her advisers, who seek to reduce the influence of the French on Scotland by forging an alliance with the Spanish throne. Her statesmen are generally of the view that Her Majesty's body is no longer her property. Presumably, that's the kind of advice given to members of the royal family to this day. There are uniformly fine performances, with Rush impressive as the menacing Walsingham and Fiennes, displaying more assurance than his brother Ralph has in his recent roles, as the dashing but rather callow Dudley. Eccleston is a wonderfully dark and sinister Norfolk. Elizabeth, which is handsomely designed (John Myhre) and photographed (Remi Adefarasin), is the first English-language film made by Shekhar Kapur, who has made several films in his native India, including the contentious Bandit Queen, another movie about a woman forced by circumstances to become ruthless and violent. Just as Taiwanese director Ang Lee made a seamless transition to quintessential English material with Sense and Sensibility, so Kapur never puts a foot wrong with his impressive and gripping direction of this exciting slice of English history. He manages the difficult feat of making the political and religious machinations relevant for contemporary audiences and, at the same time, ensuring that Elizabeth isn't just a figurehead in her own story but a flesh and blood character forced to make an impossible decision between her lover and her career. And here, again, Blanchett comes triumphantly into her own, revealing both the young woman in love and the queen who would lead her country into a golden age. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From Urban Cinefile (AUS)... CRITICAL COUNT Favourable: 3 Unfavourable: 0 Mixed: 0 __________________ ELIZABETH (M) (UK/India) CAST: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston, Jamie Foreman,Edward Hardwick, James Frain, Emily Mortimer, Kelly MacDonald, Amanda Ryan, Kathy Burke, Terence Rigby, John Gielgud SYNOPSIS: In 1554, after Queen Mary’s (Kathy Burke) death, Princess Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) is crowned Queen of England. The country is racked by financial and religious instability and her advisor Sir William Cecil (Richard Attenborough) says she must marry with political astuteness in order to secure her position. She is urged to marry either the French Duke of Anjou (Vincent Cassel) or her dead sister’s husband King Philip of Spain, although her heart lies with her childhood sweetheart, Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). Elizabeth puts her faith in her confidante, Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), in her quest to overcome conspiracy and assassination attempts. But in the process, her heart pays a high price for her loyalty to her country and crown. "A tight and gripping script is made engaging and entertaining by outstanding performances, especially from Cate Blanchett in the title role as the fascinating, unpredictable, but always human Queen who has to fight, to sacrifice and to grow in stature just to stay alive. This is Blanchett at her best, responding to Kapur’s lucid and firm direction, as he raises the film well above standard ‘costumer’ levels to an intricate, intelligent human and historical drama. There is enough history to anchor it, but it works because it is so rich with the failings and nobility of human behaviour. Geoff Rush is reliably solid, with a final, wordless scene that will linger in your memory; and the production design side steps the traps of making 15th century England a romantic mix of glen and dale. Instead, we see a society torn apart by the barbarities of religious bigotry - and political power runs on blood as much as on principle. Ignorance and self interest are the currency of the day, even more so than today – if you can conceive that. With superb editing from Australia’s Jill Bilcock, the film enjoys a considerable swag of Australian elements, much to its credit, too. With its excellent production values, Elizabeth is a visual, intellectual and often emotional experience that is well worth the time and money." - Andrew L. Urban "Presenting a human face to Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, Shekhar Kapur’s artistic flair elevates this fascinating story of love, ambition, treachery and loyalty into a masterpiece. Showcasing his expertise in historical screenplays, Michael Hirst has beautifully balanced fact with emotion, bringing each character to life in the context of the day, yet allowing us to relate to the passion, conflict and drama. Cate Blanchett is bewitching as Elizabeth. Beneath her grace, serenity and feminity lies strength, confidence and determination. Blanchett’s dramatic performance is laced with nuance and seduction; this is the role that will claim her as an international star. The entire cast is strong – Geoffrey Rush, forceful; Richard Attenburgh, magnetic; Kathy Burke and the beautiful Fanny Ardant, both effective and memorable. Joseph Fiennes is a stand out as the sensitive Lord Robert; his on-screen chemistry with Blanchett is positively tantalising. Politics and religion are the key issues, and they are canvassed with passion. Beautiful to look at, the sumptuous production design is ornate and textured, while David Hirschfelder’s rich, moody strong score enhances the mood with its etherial, dramatic, lyrical and melodic passages. "A powerful story of strength on a backdrop of duplicity and deceit, Elizabeth is compelling and satisfying – a moving and wonderful cinematic experience." - Louise Keller "It’s a stunning, magnificently mounted film of sheer cinematic depth and character, with both a sense of finely drawn history, coupled with a contemporary edge. The life of Elizabeth Tudor - one of history's most complex creatures, has been depicted on screen with mixed success: from the purely fanciful [as those with Bette Davis] to the more worthy [the famed TV series]. This Elizabeth may have some historical anomalies, but the movie works for its audacity, its sense of drama and fast-flowing narrative, it's rich, visual style, and performances that are simply faultless. Director Kapur, has brought a great sense of individuality to this fascinating period of Tudor history, and has created an Elizabethan world, which sharply contrasts the puritanical Catholic faction against the more vibrant Protestants, who combined to create Anglicanism. The depiction of Elizabeth's court, exemplified by the young queen's naivete and joie-de-vivre, has been exquisitely detailed, heightened by the magnificent costumes, the impeccable production design and the dramatically evocative music. Add to that the sublime performances. Blanchett has never been better, giving a hypnotic and detailed performance. Her transformation from the alluring young Queen to supreme monarch is remarkable, and for her alone, Elizabeth is a must. Geoffrey Rush excels in the role of the brooding, sinister Walsingham, while Richard Attenborough is perfect as Cecil. Historical quibbles aside, Elizabeth is a monumental achievement, a masterpiece of colour, vi brancy, passion and intricate detail. It's a haunting, powerful work, as well as an arresting, thrilling piece of exhilarating entertainment. As for our own Cate Blanchett, a star has been crowned!" - Paul Fischer ---- USA Today, 11/6/98 For your love struck aunt who has worn out her romance novels Shakespeare in Love (Dec. 11, New York and Los Angeles) The packaging: A sexy romp that combines hot young stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Joeseph Fiennes (Ralph's younger brother) and Ben Affleck with acting experts Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench (as the portly powdered Queen Elizabeth) and Rupert Everett (as rival scribe Christopher Marlowe). What's inside: Bard meets girl, Bard loses girl. Young Willie the Shake (Fiennes) has writer's block until he falls for a poetry-loving, cross-dressing maid (Paltrow). Then his quill spouts sonnets to make her swoon. But, alas and alack, she is engaged to a cruel lord (Colin Firth). Why its a keeper: This mix of comedy and literature makes Shakespeare seem very steamy indeed. The sex scenes with Paltrow and Fiennes spouting Romeo and Juliette will make audiences blush, then rush home. Return factor: Some may not get the literary allusions. A familiarity with Shakespeare's work is essential to understanding some of the humor. — E.S. Elizabeth (now in theaters) The packaging: A sumptuous historical tale with lush locations and fine fabrics draping stars Cate Blanchett, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Richard Attenborough, John Gielgud and Christopher Eccleston. What's inside: The spicy story behind Elizabeth I, including her sudden ascent to the throne, political forces that threatened her life and the chilly determination that kept her in power for 40 years. Why its a keeper: This history is anything but dry. There's sex, assassinations, torture, betrayal, heresy, cross-dressing, a poisoned gown and more sex! Plus every frame is gorgeous. Return factors: The film has drawn some snipes in England about its lack of historical accuracy; some experts on the monarchy bristle at the notion that Lizzie was not a virgin. (Oh, grow up!) — E.S. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Long article on Cate Blanchett in Friday's L.A. Times, as well as a review at (if anyone wants e-mailed, just let me know): --- ET Online has short synopsis's (synopses? ;) for Elizabeth and SiL. The Elizabeth one has an itty bitty (but especially nice -- did his hair just right :)) pic of Joe. Couldn't find a direct URL, but if you go to: and do a search for Fiennes, you can find links to them. Also, Dark Horizons has a favorable test screening review ofSiL, as well as some new screen grabs from POE (the animated stuff ;) in their November 6 News: Lastly, People and Entertainment Weekly have short reviews of Elizabeth (EW also has a nice little pic of Cate and Joe) at:,1683,369,00.html Paula ---- From: "Musil's" Save Address Block Sender To: "Fiennes-fans Chat list" Cc: "Fiennes Fans News List" Date: Sat, 7 Nov 1998 11:16:27 -0800 Subject: [fiennes-fans-news] Elizabeth Hollywood Reporter news Reply Reply All Forward Delete Previous Next Close POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Film review: 'Elizabeth' (Hollywood Reporter - 799 words - Thurs., Nov. 5, 1998) By Duane Byrge Those who favor conspiracy theories will rejoice in Gramercy's "Elizabeth," a raucous and full-throated depiction of the byzantine dangers that faced England's queen who ascended the throne in 1558 after beating the executioner's blade. Roiled with behind-the-scenes intrigue and featuring a well-chosen cast, "Elizabeth's" sweep is extensive but its schematic girth hobbles its thematic, seams-showing undergarments -- the championing of a 1990-style, own-woman heroine. Capped with technical finery and Cate Blanchett's steely lead performance, "Elizabeth" will win some enthusiastic select-site admirers and mixed critical acclaim. With its historic backdrop and speechifying, it's likely to win Golden Globe recognition from the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. as well, but its plodding bombastics will settle less well with other sophisticated viewers. Its boxoffice reign will be fraught with variation, owing to its narrative and thematic ambitions -- an uneven mix of grand-scale visuals and soliloquy-style exposition will surely benumb as many viewers as it bedazzles. An often canny mix of pomp, plummery and philosophy (both political and personal), "Elizabeth" is, in its beginnings, smartly distilled to human dimensions -- a story of family intrigue (the family happens to be the royals) and geopolitical warring. Screenwriter Michael Hirst has sagely set the historical backdrop with the mid-1550s calamities in England under Queen Mary I's iron-fisted rule. As per tradition in those isles, it's the same old story, Catholic vs. Protestant, as Mary feverishly instigates her policy of repression against Protestants, especially half-sister Elizabeth who, she fears, will ascend the throne and cause England to forsake the papacy. Indeed, "Elizabeth" blazes with the respective turmoils of the day: England is bankrupt and without an army -- a perilous state given the threats from abroad. Spanish and French armies are poised to strike when Elizabeth ascends the throne. Detailing the historical conflicts with brevity and general clarity, the film nevertheless suffers from the combination of its honed-down, personal narrative to emblematize the big picture, while director Shekhar Kapur's ("Bandits") cinematic pomposity, in terms of visual composition and the samesong rhythms of plot exposition. Throughout, expositional scenes are turgidly overdressed with pageantry -- boat trips, royal dinners and other over-stitched fineries that, although historically accurate, tend to reduce the story line to a paradelike display of flotillas and grandstanding. Unlike the superbly restrained "A Man for All Seasons," "Elizabeth" is, by nature of its indelicate thematic trumpetings, much less powerful in theme and drama. Admittedly, the filmmakers' task is somewhat akin to writing a Cliff Notes distillation of one of history's most explosive times. Although its girth and shrill deportment would seem to preclude it from reaching wide mainstream dimension, "Elizabeth" does certainly given one an overall appreciation for the tumultuous battles and cross-alliances that jarred all of Europe during the 16th century and how these internecine warrings have fashioned in many ways today's society and governments. The crown point of "Elizabeth" is Blanchett's vigorously shaped performance as a woman who, under the most strenuous duress, is able to focus her will and energies from powers within. Blanchett embodies the kind of survivalist power that Queen Elizabeth possessed: the sagacity to recognize what advice to take and what to disregard and the savagery to protect and extend her own flanks. Geoffrey Rush also deserves a knighthood for his sinister-stirred performance as a dark force about court, while Richard Attenborough's cherubic countenance, glazed with a ferocious resolve, is perfect in his role as Elizabeth's cunning chief adviser. Similarly, John Gielgud does a short but stunning turn as the addled and elderly Pope. Not surprisingly, in a dramatic sweep as far-stepping as "Elizabeth," some characters suffer from stereotypical condensation, most aggrievedly the Duc d'Anjou (Vincent Cassel), an epicene fop who is used as a romantic inducement to bring Elizabeth into the French fold. Throughout, Shekhar Kapur's direction is overwrought, from high-angled visuals to showy compositions. It tends to dull the edge of the narrative's many provocative excellencies. Indeed, Kapur has rounded everything off to showiest dimension and, in the process, has diluted the richness of the storyline. Still, there is much to praise, including costume designer Alexandra Byrne's historical fittings and production designer John Myhre's packed-with-danger trimmings. ELIZABETH Gramercy Pictures PolyGram Filmed Entertainment presents In association with Channel Four Films A Working Title production A film by Shekhar Kapur Producers: Alison Owen, Eric Fellner, Tim Bevan Director: Shekhar Kapur Screenwriter: Michael Hirst Director of photography: Remi Adefarasin Production designer: John Myhre Editor: Jill Bilcock Costume designer: Alexandra Byrne Music: David Hirschfelder Casting: Vanessa Pereira, Simone Ireland Line producer: Mary Richards Co-producers: Debra Hayward, Liza Chasin Color/stereo Cast: Elizabeth I: Cate Blanchett Sir Francis Walsingham: Geoffrey Rush Duke of Norfolk: Christopher Eccleston Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester: Joseph Fiennes Sir William Cecil: Richard Attenborough Earl of Sussex: Jamie Foreman Alvaro de la Quadra: James Frain Kat Ashley: Emily Mortimer Isabel Knollys: Kelly MacDonald Earl of Arundel: Edward Hardwicke Mary of Guise: Fanny Ardant Queen Mary Tudor: Kathy Burke Duc d'Anjou: Vincent Cassel Pope: John Gielgud Running time -- 124 minutes MPAA rating: R --- .................................................................

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