Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday at the Movies - Elizabeth The Golden Age

Last night I finally got around to watching the sequel to Elizabeth
I was NOT disappointed.

The Golden Age picks up well into Elizabeth's the point of the Spanish Inquisition.  
King Philip of Spain, Elizabeth's former brother-in-law (married to Elizabeth's half sister Queen Mary I until her death), is at the helm of the most powerful country in Europe.  He wants control of the seas as well, but Elizabeth's pirates and merchant ships keep getting in his way.  Philip gets royally (pun intended) irritated when warnings to Elizabeth (the bastard queen, as he calls her) are swatted away.  

After the Spanish Ambassador warns Elizabeth about his King's serious intentions, Queen Elizabeth makes no bones about how little she cares for Philip and/the needs/wants of Spain.

Elizabeth: Go back to your rathole! Tell Philip I fear neither him, nor his priests, nor his armies. Tell him if he wants to shake his little fist at us, we're ready to give him such a bite he'll wish he'd kept his hands in his pockets! 
Spanish Ambassador:  You see a leaf fall, and you think you know which way the wind blows. Well, there is a wind coming, Madame, that will sweep away your pride. 
Elizabeth: I, too, can command the wind, sir! I have a hurricane in me that will strip Spain bare when you dare to try me! 

 Philip decides to remove Elizabeth as queen of England and replace her with his own daughter, Isabella.  First, he must remove Catholic Mary Stuart, the next in line to the English throne, and he tricks Elizabeth into "removing" Mary Stuart herself with a bungled assassination attempt and letters from Mary Stuart condoning the assassination of Elizabeth.  Mary Stuart is convicted of high treason and executed.  
Philip declares a holy war with England.    

Bad move, Phil.

King Philip prepares an armada and sets out to destroy Elizabeth.  She, in turn, prepares to destroy Philip. 

 As angry as she can get, Elizabeth also is human...she is frightened, she is unsure, she is a woman who falls in love with a man she cannot have.  She is England.  Period.  She accepts her responsibility but mourns the loss of a normal life as well at times.  However, it is these times of emotion that she becomes even stronger.  Elizabeth embraces the joint desire of her subjects to save England...and together, against formidable odds, they do just that.  

In the film "Elizabeth The Golden Age" there are many, many scenes where Cate Blanchett's performance gives me chill bumps.  Two that stand out above others are her outburst at the Spanish ambassador quoted above and her speech to the English troops in the field in preparation for the Spanish ships to land on England's coast.

Obviously there are some dramatic licenses taken...both here and in Elizabeth's dealings with the Spanish ambassador.  It is accurate that Elizabeth's dealings with the ambassador were unfriendly at best...and harsh words were spoken.  However, I haven't been able to find a documented version of that conversation so far.  

However, the text of the actual speech Elizabeth made on the battlefield (The Speech to the troops at Tilbury) can be found here.

and is more accurately portrayed in this BBC clip

I think what these dramatic licenses do for history is portray the emotion...the fire inside one of the most powerful women/monarchs ever...her love for her country, her willingness to give England her whole self and die for her country alongside her people if necessary.  If a little dramatic license can stir up interest in world history, I see nothing wrong with that.

Another intriguing historically accurate fact is that in the midst of the battle at sea an unexpected storm comes up.  The storm impedes the Spanish ships progress even further and forces them to drop anchor in the dangerous the English troops an unexpected advantage, which became integral to their victory.   As close as they were, the Spanish ships never were able to reach the coast of England.  

I find it ironic that Philip attacked England with the "armies of Christ," and a storm (figuratively sent by Christ himself) defeated him.  

Please see this movie.  The visuals themselves, the costumes, the scenery, the acting, the action, and the emotion, are worth it even if you aren't a Tudor addict like me.