Saturday, October 20, 2007
Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush, together with director Shekhar Kapur, were present at the première of Elizabeth: The Golden Age at the Rome Film Festival - Festa del Cinema - yesterday evening. I admit I have a weakness for over-the-top historical costume dramas so with the stellar cast list and the stunning cinematography of this film I was more than happy to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the show! Blanchett, continuing in the role she played so well in Kapur's previous Elizabeth biopic, which focused on the queen's early life, is brilliant and brings a curious mix of steely regal distance combined with real flesh and blood reality to the role – not to mention how stunning she looks, whether she is the vulnerable queen stripped, quite literally, of her gowns, make-up and wigs or in full battle armour astride a white horse rousing her troops. Meanwhile, she is supported admirably by a charismatic Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raleigh, Geoffrey Rush as Elizabeth's stalwart Sir Francis Walsingham and the surprisingly effective Samantha Morton as Mary Stewart. Spanish actor Jordi Mollà drips evil as the bad guy of the movie King Philip ll of Spain in a performance that is borderline grotesque and which has provoked cries of anti-Catholicism (there's a lively thread on IMDB dedicated to the subject), although at the press conference the director specified that the film seeks to underline the dangers of all religious extremism. The whole film is directed with panache, is perfectly paced and there are some amazing set pieces – the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the unusual detail of the struggling and panic-stricken horses on board the ships was particularly impressive. And as for historical inaccuracies? Well that's what Wikipedia is for, isn't is?! Enjoy Elizabeth: The Golden Age for what is is – a dazzling blend of historical facts, legends and myths about a fascinating woman and period.