FEVERED / GILDED TRIPE
What’s so resplendent about Elizabeth: The Golden Age? Most of its abbreviated historic context is about threadbare plots of various betrayals and muddled schemes to induce war, with no correlative recordings about the Elizabethan Era’s facilitation of the arts and commerce. Not even the queen’s gowns look sumptuous enough to warrant an age of unequaled royal splendour; despite being reproductions from paintings, the dresses (as well as the wigs) are banal and fagged. And so is the movie; it feels tired, as if the crew that did the first Elizabeth—Blanchett, Rush, director Shekhar Kapur, writer Michael Hirst, photographer Remi Adefarasin, film editor Jill Bilcock, and costumer Alexandra Byrne—came down with a contagion of the blahs. Even those of us who had many reservations about the first chapter’s high octane dizziness are destined to prefer it over this cut-rate chronic fatiguer, which waits until the last scene’s fade-out to tell us in words on a blackened screen what’s coming—England’s true period of peace and prosperity after defeating the Spanish Armada. Maybe we all enjoyed the extreme liberties in the first because we saw it as a slick fancy, particularly in reference to Elizabeth getting bagged. In E:TGA, the queen’s avoiding the bed as a matter of self-protection, and she seems not so much the Virgin but the ReVirginized Queen, vicariously getting her jollies by pushing her most beloved Lady-in-Waiting into the arms of the Court’s most eligible stud. That would be Clive Owen, as Sir Walter Raleigh, yet because of his months-on-the-sea tan and dirtiness (he definitely could have used a recognizable change of clothes now and then) he looks more like a misplaced Othello. It’s as if Kapur, Hirst and co-writer William Nicholson performed penance for the prior lack of truthiness regarding her sex life. (By all respected accounts, she never really had one.) We gave Kapur a pass with Elizabeth on the basis of the strength of Blanchett’s thesping and the entertaining sinister effrontery he surrounded her with, but not this time, not with this cheap gilded tripe.
Text COPYRIGHT © 2001/2007 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.