January 6, 2008
Elizabeth, The Golden Age, sequel of the 1998 Elizabeth, reunites regal Cate Blanchett and her advisor Sir Francis Willingham (Geoffrey Rush) with Director Shekhar Kapur and Cinematographer Remi Adefarasin.
The 16th century power struggle continues: England versus Spain, Protestant versus Catholic, Queen Elizabeth I versus pretenders to her throne, and the romantic Elizabeth versus Elizabeth, the savvy sovereign.
Swarthy swashbuckling Clive Owen plays Sir Walter Raleigh, the latest ill-suited suitor of the Virgin Queen. She wrestles with her attraction for this New World traveler, but has to settle for his naming the state of Virginia in her honor. (No spoiler alert needed because the story is history.)
As the recipient of the 2008 Academy Award for the best outfits, this is the costume drama to flaunt the color range of your HDTV. But since it is a thriller - albeit historical - adults can love this movie for more than the garmenture: the acting (especially Blanchett's AA nominated performance) and the intricate intriguery of love and war.
It's a great home theater film. You've seen it once, you know it's good, and it's rich enough to see again and again with friends.
Since this delicious film ends leaving you hungry for more, the Extra clips help quench the craving. (Except, that is, for the overkill head shot of Mary, ex-Queen of Scots.) The deleted scenes clarified the plot, so the finished edit is a more subtle cerebral cinema. But wistfully, this segment could have been longer.
The Director's talkover is another fine lesson from Movie Making 101. Bollywood schooled, Kapur's eastern perspective on western history makes his reflections fresh. And his take on the collaborative creative process is enlightening. (Though once, rather than argue about changing what Kapur thought was bad writing, he erased a line by upping the volume of music to cover the actor's delivery! Discussion over.)
The effort to revive the period and elude anachronisms is offered in the Extras. Using veritable Elizabethan castles and cathedrals - not relying on blue screens and computerized set extensions - provides a very real catalyst for Kapur's cinematic exuberance. His lush use of space, color and light informs his direction, the actors' performances and the story.
The crew's quest for factual accuracy on a restricted budget inspired innovative solutions. How to create the Spanish Armada? The boats? The battles? The storms?
First, build a life-sized ship: the Janus vessel is one half English, the opposite half Spanish. Then invent a mechanical contraption to rock the boat, throw in the appropriate props, camouflage unwanted details with smoke, and then move the camera from side to side. Frankly, just see it to believe it. It's worth the Extra time.
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Clive
Owen, Samantha Morton, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush, Rhys Ifans, Jordi Mollà
Length: 114 minutes
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1:85:1
Dolby True HD 5.1
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
French & Spanish:
Dolby Digital Plus 5.1
English SDH, French