The Golden Age

‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ tells the thrilling tale of an era – the story of one woman’s crusade to control love, crush enemies and secure her position as a beloved icon of the western world. At least that’s what the blurb says at the Working Title films site.

But is it? Um, not so much.

I should start off by saying that I really loved the first Elizabeth movie. Really, REALLY loved. (I am both English and something of a history geek when it comes to the late 1500s, so it worked for me.) Of course, Cate Blanchett is also quite simply an extraordinary actress, and the story of Good Queen Bess’ perilous ascension to the throne of England was both sumptuously and rivetingly portrayed.

This time, Director Shekhar Kapur gets the sumptuous bit spot on, but sadly fails with the riveting. The costumes are lush, ornate and drag-queen fabulous (poor Cate evidently spent much of her time on set stuck in a wind tunnel) and I do love the quirky way he often positions the camera on high, so that the characters shrink and the architecture becomes part of the story.

Elizabeth the Golden Age

Abbie Cornish as Bess Throckmorton at the Palace of Whitehall, actually Wells Catherdral.

But whilst the movie evidently took great pains to look fabulous, it’s not much of a substitute for actually being fabulous. The Golden Age tries to do too much and tell too much and show too much and ends up being kind of unengaging.

However, there’s a major bonus. If you are vaguely interested in production on location, I would urge you to visit the Production Diary of Justin Pollard, the historical researcher on the film.
It’s a fascinating insight into the processes behind filmmaking, and a remarkable record of the huge efforts made to create an air of authenticity.