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In 1554, after Queen Mary’s (Kathy Burke) death, Princess Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) is crowned Queen of England. The country is racked by financial and religious instability and her advisor Sir William Cecil (Richard Attenborough) says she must marry with political astuteness in order to secure her position. She is urged to marry either the French Duke of Anjou (Vincent Cassel) or her dead sister’s husband King Philip of Spain, although her heart lies with her childhood sweetheart, Robert Dudley (Joseph Fiennes). Elizabeth puts her faith in her confidante, Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush), in her quest to overcome conspiracy and assassination attempts. But in the process, her heart pays a high price for her loyalty to her country and crown.

"A tight and gripping script is made engaging and entertaining by outstanding performances, especially from Cate Blanchett in the title role as the fascinating, unpredictable, but always human Queen who has to fight, to sacrifice and to grow in stature just to stay alive. This is Blanchett at her best, responding to Kapur’s lucid and firm direction, as he raises the film well above standard ‘costumer’ levels to an intricate, intelligent human and historical drama. There is enough history to anchor it, but it works because it is so rich with the failings and nobility of human behaviour. Geoff Rush is reliably solid, with a final, wordless scene that will linger in your memory; and the production design side steps the traps of making 15th century England a romantic mix of glen and dale. Instead, we see a society torn apart by the barbarities of religious bigotry - and political power runs on blood as much as on principle. Ignorance and self interest are the currency of the day, even more so than today – if you can conceive that. With superb editing from Australia’s Jill Bilcock, the film enjoys a considerable swag of Australian elements, much to its credit, too. With its excellent production values, Elizabeth is a visual, intellectual and often emotional experience that is well worth the time and money."
Andrew L. Urban

"Presenting a human face to Elizabeth the Virgin Queen, Shekhar Kapur’s artistic flair elevates this fascinating story of love, ambition, treachery and loyalty into a masterpiece. Showcasing his expertise in historical screenplays, Michael Hirst has beautifully balanced fact with emotion, bringing each character to life in the context of the day, yet allowing us to relate to the passion, conflict and drama. Cate Blanchett is bewitching as Elizabeth. Beneath her grace, serenity and feminity lies strength, confidence and determination. Blanchett’s dramatic performance is laced with nuance and seduction; this is the role that will claim her as an international star. The entire cast is strong – Geoffrey Rush, forceful; Richard Attenburgh, magnetic; Kathy Burke and the beautiful Fanny Ardant, both effective and memorable. Joseph Fiennes is a stand out as the sensitive Lord Robert; his on-screen chemistry with Blanchett is positively tantalising. Politics and religion are the key issues, and they are canvassed with passion. Beautiful to look at, the sumptuous production design is ornate and textured, while David Hirschfelder’s rich, moody strong score enhances the mood with its etherial, dramatic, lyrical and melodic passages. "A powerful story of strength on a backdrop of duplicity and deceit, Elizabeth is compelling and satisfying – a moving and wonderful cinematic experience."
Louise Keller

"It’s a stunning, magnificently mounted film of sheer cinematic depth and character, with both a sense of finely drawn history, coupled with a contemporary edge. The life of Elizabeth Tudor - one of history's most complex creatures, has been depicted on screen with mixed success: from the purely fanciful [as those with Bette Davis] to the more worthy [the famed TV series]. This Elizabeth may have some historical anomalies, but the movie works for its audacity, its sense of drama and fast-flowing narrative, it's rich, visual style, and performances that are simply faultless. Director Kapur, has brought a great sense of individuality to this fascinating period of Tudor history, and has created an Elizabethan world, which sharply contrasts the puritanical Catholic faction against the more vibrant Protestants, who combined to create Anglicanism. The depiction of Elizabeth's court, exemplified by the young queen's naivete and joie-de-vivre, has been exquisitely detailed, heightened by the magnificent costumes, the impeccable production design and the dramatically evocative music. Add to that the sublime performances. Blanchett has never been better, giving a hypnotic and detailed performance. Her transformation from the alluring young Queen to supreme monarch is remarkable, and for her alone, Elizabeth is a must. Geoffrey Rush excels in the role of the brooding, sinister Walsingham, while Richard Attenborough is perfect as Cecil. Historical quibbles aside, Elizabeth is a monumental achievement, a masterpiece of colour, vibrancy, passion and intricate detail. It's a haunting, powerful work, as well as an arresting, thrilling piece of exhilarating entertainment. As for our own Cate Blanchett, a star has been crowned!"
Paul Fischer

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See Paul Fischer's FEATURE ; he talks to Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush & Shekhar Kapur


CAST: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough, Christopher Eccleston, Jamie Foreman,Edward Hardwick, James Frain, Emily Mortimer, Kelly MacDonald, Amanda Ryan, Kathy Burke, Terence Rigby, John Gielgud

PRODUCERS: Alison Owen

DIRECTOR: Shekhar Kapur

SCRIPT: Michael Hirst


EDITOR: Jill Bilcock

MUSIC: David Hirschfelder


RUNNING TIME: 121 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 22, 1998

Video Release: June 23, 1999
Video Distributor: Universal

Sell-thru Release: December 1, 1999

RRP: $29.95 (VHS)

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