Friday, November 17, 2006

Movie Review 1: Elizabeth

1) Mary Queen of Scots believed she had a legitimate claim to the throne. I am unsure if the movie explains this raging resentment against Elizabeth. Although very watchable, at times, the film was richer in textiles than historical data. History has it that the Mary, whose family name was Stuart, was related to the Tudor line and therefore a strong candidate for Queen of England. In the movie, when Mary refers to Elizabeth as that "illegitimate, heretical whore, she also expresses the Catholics’view of Elizabeth’s unfitness to rule. As the church did not endorse Henry VIII’s annulment nor his subsequent marriage to Ann Bolyn, this would render Elizabeth’s claim as void and Mary, who was Catholic, as the favored contender. Interestingly, I believe Elizabeth appointed Mary’s son, James I, as her successor.

2) Elizabeth not only established the "Uniformity of Churches Act" to quell the dissidence between Protestants and Catholics, she also helped define and unify the Anglican church of England. As monarch, she was also the ruler of the church. Elizabeth developed and distributed an accessible "Book of Common Prayer" to congregations (this was not in the movie). Even though Elizabeth was definitely Protestant - after all, she was "her father’s daughter" – she was neither overbearing nor intolerant about religion.

3) Upon her coronation, Elizabeth was besieged by suitors, most of whom harbored mercenary agendas. The King of Spain, or rather, his ambassador relayed a marriage proposal stipulating that the King would only be making two or three cameo appearances per annum in Elizabeth’s bedroom. The scheming Mary Queen of Scots sent her nephew, who was the Duke of Anjou and a flaming buffoon, to propose. Additionally, Lord Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s passion, asked for her hand and, according to the film, she may have accepted.

4) Elizabeth’s romantic interest was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leceister. Although he broke her heart at least twice: he kept his marital status a secret and, later, committed treason against Elizabeth. Yet, she spared his life, claiming that Robert will serve as a "reminder of how close she came to danger."

5) Secular, romantic eros failed Elizabeth: her 'true lover' betrayed her; the Frenchman was an insensitive fool and a closet transvestite; and the notably absent King of Spain refused to share her life or bed, desiring only her wealth and power. She had no suitable suitors and to choose one country over another would create animosity. She abandons carnal love and declares "the country of England" her husband. The movie charts her physical and emotional transformation from a vibrant, lithe young woman to a regal stony figure – much like the alabaster statue of the Madonna. On the textile scene, the initial flamboyantly vivid gowns become more tailored, subdued shades of white. Both Elizabeth and the Madonna are virgins, they stand for high ideals and are unsullied by sex, sin, and secular vanities.

6) Elizabeth was a remarkable ruler: she advocated and passed the "Uniformity in Churches Act"; she maintained national pride; tried to evade war; she met and defeated several assassination attempts; and the queen showed genuine compassion for the people. Elizabeth guided a bankrupt, relatively defenseless state into prosperity and stability. Her era is still referred to as the "Golden Age of England."

7) Elizabeth dispelled the myth of women’s inability to govern. She was thoughtful, decisive, brave, and authentic. To me, her combination of intellect and action tempered with love and high ideals show monarchies as an attractive and viable form of leadership.


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