Elizabeth: The Golden Age

By Clifford White

Watching a period piece is usually not the best way to learn about a particular event in history, nor is it the best explanation of beliefs or attitudes people might have had for a monarch. While not as complex or detailed regarding the personal intrigue of Queen Elizabeth I, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is thoroughly entertaining. Opening with a quick synopsis of European events (the year is 1588, Spain is the most powerful force in the world and King Philip hates Queen Elizabeth because she’s a Protestant and he’s Catholic) The Golden Age, wastes no time thrusting Elizabeth into peril. Like the first film, Cate Blanchett plays the Virgin Queen and is aided by her most devoted protector Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush).
As with the 1998 film Elizabeth, The Golden Age primarily focuses on the queen attempting to keep her country stable while various enemies plan her assassination. This time the Spanish Armada threatens to destroy England. Like its predecessor, The Golden Age features a romantic subplot — this time Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) is the love interest. While Blanchett is far too young to be truly believable as the 52-year-old monarch, she is captivating and does her best to conceal the absurd notion that a man without a drop of aristocratic blood can gain the title of King with her flirtatious behavior.
Sadly these slight inconsistencies make Elizabeth: The Golden Age inferior to its predecessor. Yes, there were certain events rearranged in the first film regarding how Elizabeth attained the throne, or possible expanded aspects of her love affair with Robert Dudley, but these were understandable changes made for the sake of the tale. In terms of Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Walter Raleigh’s role is expanded beyond any measure of accepted history and therefore, parts of this movie will have anyone who knows anything about Elizabeth I throwing popcorn on the floor with a huff. Those who are blissfully ignorant of the truth regarding this affair will be entertained by this movie. For history scholars looking to nitpick inaccuracies, you should wait till it’s out on DVD.