Elizabeth, The Golden Age (2007)

Rated: PG-13 for violence, some sexuality, and nudity.
Length: 114 minutes
Grade: ACAA=A
Budget: $50-60 million
Box Office: $83 million ($16 U.S., $57 Intl., $10 DVD)

Written by: William Nicholson, who wrote Gladiator, First Knight, Shadowlands, and Nell (Don’t hold that last one against him), and Michael Hirst, who wrote the previous Elizabeth.
Directed by: Shekkar Kapur, who directed the previous Elizabeth as well as The Four Feathers.
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Clive Owen, Samantha Morton, Jordi Molla, and Rhys Ifans.

This is the sequel to the first Elizabeth movie, which takes us from the difficulties Elizabeth had with religious division in England all the way through to the battle with the Spanish Armada. The queen must rule her people fairly, navigate the difficult issue of being unmarried, contemplate the new world, and fend off the plots of Spain to replace her with the exiled Mary Queen of Scots, a Catholic.

Entertainment Value: A
Just like the first one, this is everything you could want in an Elizabethan drama. Great acting. Unbelievable costumes and sets. Brilliant writing. And a historical drama that may not adhere exactly to the facts, but comes close enough to be educational as well as entertaining.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity C, Violence D, Language B, Illegality B
There are a handful of scenes involving sex and nudity, mostly back nudity. There is a lot of discussion of sex and marriage. The violence is typical warfare stuff but also a few scenes of torture of prisoners and also public executions by beheading. The language is all fairly minor, as you might expect in a period piece. There is a scene showing drinking and another showing tobacco use for the first time in England.
Significant Content: A
This is a stark portrayal of royalty and leadership at its best: wise, savvy, regal, dignified (mostly), and yet still human and vulnerable. There are powerful themes here about religion, loyalty, nationalism, and political subversion. Religious tolerance is portrayed as a great virtue even in the face of real danger from religious radicals. And here’s my favorite part: God is a central theme as people pray and seek guidance for their actions.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
How could it not be? The movie is visually stunning, as you would expect after the first one. The drama is perfectly cultivated as several plot lines are woven together into one. Even the battle scene is wonderfully made. It’s a feast for movie lovers. Plus the importance of particular characters and also of errors in judgment are shown to be massively important in the development of history.

Discussion Questions:
~Do you think that the defeat of the Spanish Armada was a statement by God about religion and tolerance? Do you think God created the results?
~What do you think of Elizabeth’s pronouncement that she would not punish people for their beliefs, only for their deeds?
~Elizabeth wonders whether she’s ever been loved for herself because she is so powerful. What insights into God’s character might you get from this? Have you ever wondered whether people liked you for who you were as opposed to what you had to offer them? Is this distinction really valid?
~Do you think executions should be public events? What did you think of the way Mary handled her own beheading?
~Why does Elizabeth, a devout Christian, consult an astrologer?
~What leadership lessons can you draw from Elizabeth in this movie? What about from Raliegh or from King Phillip?
~In the end, what do you think of Elizabeth as a person? As a queen? As a Christian?
~Was Elizabeth’s decision not to be led by fear a wise one or reckless?
~Does your Protestantism or your Catholicism affect how you view this movie?

Overall Grade: A
We also recently watched “The Other Boleyn Girl,” and there was simply no comparison between them.

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