It is the late 16th century and Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett – The Aviator, Babel) is now faced with a threat to the throne from within her own country with support from King Philip II (Jordi Molla – Bad Boys II, The Alamo) of Spain. Spain is the most powerful nation of the time and King Phillip, a devout Catholic, wants a Catholic ruler on the British throne so he is secretly supporting Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton – In America, Minority Report).
Amidst this political upheaval, Elizabeth finds herself attracted to the debonair explorer Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen – Children of Men, Sin City). Knowing it is impossible that they be together as she has vowed to never have any master but England, Elizabeth encourages her favourite lady-in-waiting, Bess (A Good Year), to stay close to Raleigh. This sacrifice becomes increasingly frustrating for Elizabeth the more she sees the closeness between Raleigh and Bess growing.
Aided by her most trusted advisor, Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush – Shine, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), Elizabeth begins an effort to solidify her throne. Walsingham uncovers an assassination plot against Elizabeth which involves Mary Stuart. His uncovering of her involvement places Elizabeth (and England) in a more precarious position than before. As a result the mighty Spanish Armada is on its way to do battle with England.
Say what you will about the set, scenery, costumes, story, and cinematography, but it truly is Cate Blanchett's film and she is marvelous in it. She is able to at the same time portray a queen who is strong and vulnerable. Accomplishing the overwhelming task of making this formidable Virgin Queen a fleshed out human being, Blanchett demonstrates herself to be if not the best then most certainly in the top three of actresses we have onscreen today. The historical icon is brought to vivid life before our very eyes and it is riveting! Even though we saw her talent in the first film she truly confirms herself in this picture. The range she possesses is astounding as she is beautiful, powerful, the portrayal is nuanced, and you cannot take your eyes off of her.
Working in conjunction with this talented actor is director Shekahar Kapur (Elizabeth, The Four Feathers), whose camera seems to envelope Elizabeth and portray her in the most exquisite lighting I've seen in years. The set and elaborate costumes are full of colour and authenticity. Everything in the film compliments Blanchett's tour de force and the Oscar nomination is warranted.
-THE REIGN CONTINUES: Making ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
-INSIDE ELIZABETH'S WORLD
-COMMANDING THE WINDS: CREATING THE ARMADA
-TOWERS, COURTS AND CATHEDRALS