Test Screening - The Golden Age

Recently I had an opportunity to attend one of the first test screenings of “ Elizabeth: The Golden Age.”  This film stars Cate Blanchett reprising her role as Queen Elizabeth the first of England. Some of her other co stars include: Clive Owen as Sir Walter Raliegh, Geoffrey Rush as one of the Queen’s most trusted advisors, and  Abbie Cornish as one of Elizabeth’s  Ladies in Waiting and a close confidant and friend. Miss Cornish would be familiar to audiences as the American cousin of Russell Crowe’s character Max in “A Good Year.” 

There a several themes within this film: The concern of the English court to secure A consort and husband for the Virgin Queen and her half hearted attempts to audition a future husband--, the perceived and sometimes real Politico-religious threats from within the realm, and finally threats from foreign powers—specifically the Spanish King. Also there are the fears about her Catholic cousin Mary Queen of Scots—whose ultimate execution was shown in the film in a non graphic fashion.

One has to keep in mind—that this is taking place during a turbulent period that stemmed out of the break from the Roman Catholic Church under Elizabeth’s Father King Henry the eighth and her mother  Anne Boelyn. Monasteries had been disbanded , and the major shrine at Canterbury for St. Thomas Becket had already been dismantled. In the film Elizabeth greatly desires to be a queen to all her people—including Catholics. But best intentions do not always translate into actions. Soon there are those who are working against the crown and being Catholic could be an act of treason and rebellion, Early on in the movie we already are aware of the Spanish King’s intentions – He sees Elizabeth as a heretic and not really having a legitimate claim to the throne.  Her  Resistance to having a spouse is seen in a bad light – she is considered a high ranking whore—thus all it takes is one event to provide the excuse to act—and that action is to launch the Spanish armada.

It is against this backdrop and some assassination attempts that we meet a man whom Elizabeth becomes attracted to. He is the dashing Sir Walter (Clive Owen) . We meet him with the famous cape over the mud incident –which as it is staged --at first seems to be a threat to Elizabeth’s life.  However we soon find out that  he  is a man  who is handsome, he is honest, heroic , and not  afraid to speak up to his monarch –who definitely was her Father’s daughter.  Also he is quite an adventurer—and becomes involved in the defense of the realm when the armada comes calling. It is easy to see why the monarch is attracted to him. The question is –is he attracted to Elisabeth in the romantic sense ?  That is something you will have to wait and see when the movie is released.

One will also need to see this film to see what each character does to protect themselves and others in a dangerous though glorious time in history.

All the major performances are terrific.  Anyone who loves costuming –will love this Film. Unfortunately  there are places especially in the beginning of the film that are sometimes labored or too slow. It is possible that they might have to keep it this way in order to set-up the sequence of events which do occur later. But keeping  in mind this was a test screening—it is Possible by the time this film is released  --the parts which were slow or perhaps boring will have been fine tuned.  Also one cannot completely comment on  other production values –as we were watching a work print..

 I happen to love film soundtracks—but I could not tell what The soundtrack will sound like. They were using music from other films—including “Master and Commander :Far Side of the World. For me it was distracting to know that music so well and hear it when We see the Battle between the British and and the invading Spanish .

Would I recommend this film?  Yes—especially if you  love Historical epics. Would I give it high marks-- ?  That will depend on the final  cut that is seen in theaters.