Elizabeth: The Golden Age (English)
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush
Director: Shekhar Kapur
“The Golden Age” takes off from where “Elizabeth” left off. At the end of that film, there was Elizabeth painting her face white and declaring herself the Virgin Queen of England. And this film explores the consequences of her decision.
The aging queen still tries to prove herself fertile and keeps a succession of suitors on tenterhooks. She also has to deal with rebellious Catholics led by Philip II in Spain who is all set to unleash an army of god, the Armada, against England. Helping and watching over her is the wily courtier Francis Walsingham. And then there is the dashing piratical Walter Raleigh who represents all that she has lost — the chance for adventure and love.
Elizabeth cannot give herself to Raleigh, so she chooses to live vicariously through her favourite lady in waiting, Bess, whom she asks to become ‘her adventurer’. Elizabeth learns to her chagrin that life cannot be controlled. Elizabeth’s greatest triumph as queen, the defeat of the Armada, occurs simultaneously with her greatest loss as a woman.
There is no need to quibble over accuracy, as the movie does not set out to present history. As the card in the beginning of the film states, it is an interpretation of events. Some of the apocryphal stories — the cloak that Raleigh puts down for Elizabeth, Mary Queen of Scots’s little dog, the red petticoat she wears for her execution make their dramatic presence felt.
The film moves at a spanking pace supported by excellent all-round acting. Cate Blanchett turns in a virtuoso performance as the queen quivering on the line between desire and duty. Geoffrey Rush is excellent as Walsingham — the wheeler dealer who is horrified at being caught in the web of his own making.
If there is one actor who is not very comfortable in his role it is the dreamy looking Clive Owen as Walter Raleigh. His sleeves billow becomingly as he swings from strategically placed ropes, but he does not seem very convincing as the man with a lust for life.
Costumes (Alexandra Byrne) and music (A.R. Rahman and Craig Armstrong) are expectedly gorgeous. The camera continues to be a voyeur taking a bird’s eye view of the action as the corridors of power meander away into the inky cloak of intrigue and then swoop behind latticed windows and peepholes to keep watch.
The movie works quite like a Shakespearean drama with equal portions of love, betrayal, treason, violence and passion.