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Elizabeth the First

Film by Shekhar Kapur

Elizabeth, The Golden Age, which was released in France in December 2007, is the follow-up to Kapur’s Oscar-nominated movie about England’s most powerful queen, which came out in 1998. Shekhar Kapur’s first Elizabeth was definitely a critical and commercial success that deconstructed all the conventions of costume drama with its original vision, its framing of warm-blooded people in cold, stony settings and filming from vertiginous angles.


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The Golden Age, which was released in France in December 2007, is the follow-up to Kapur’s Oscar-nominated movie about England's most powerful queen, which came out in 1998. Shekhar Kapur's first Elizabeth was definitely a critical and commercial success that deconstructed all the conventions of costume drama with its original vision, its framing of warm-blooded people in cold, stony settings and filming from vertiginous angles.
Now, sequels are notoriously difficult and tricky. So why do it? As Kapur explains: "There was no absolute intention, but there was a desire. You've let loose a little Pandora's box as a storyteller, and you have to take it further."

Choosing an Indian film director, born in pre[artition northern India, to take on the typically English figure of Elizabeth I was quite bold and unexpected, and Kapur admits he was an unlikely interpreter of Tudor history: "I hated history and knew nothing about Elizabeth, except that she was a Renaissance and a virgin queen, so I was surprised to be approached. The producers thought of me because they were afraid of making a regular costume drama. But I couldn't have made a film about Gandhi", he explains. "It's too much part of my psyche. Maybe it would have been the same for some British directors making a film about Elizabeth." Kapur the outsider thus collaborated with British scriptwriters who kept him "tethered to reality", but his fresh perspective on the much filmed and venerated icon felt new.
It was playing the role of Queen Elizabeth I in the 1998 film that saw actress Cate Blanchett burst onto the international scene. Even if the Australian star was reportedly reluctant to reprise her role in the big-budget sequel, Kapur persuaded her that she could delve deeper into the character of Elizabeth I. And, as Blanchett asserts: "It's indisputable that she's incredibly complex, endlessly fascinating. If you look at the long legacy of actresses who've played her and will continue to play her, it's a little bit like the female Hamlet."

A few historical landmarks:

The last Tudor monarch’s family history is both eventful and cruel: in 1536, her(...)


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