Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons star in Elizabeth I, a two part
HBO Films miniseries event that explores the intersection
of the private and public life of Elizabeth I in the later
half of her reign, offering a personal look at her allies,
her enemies and her suitors as she struggles to survive in
a male-domainted world.
Part 1 explores Elizabeth's tempestuous relationship with
Earl of Leicester as it survives a French suitor, war, treason
and illness. Part 2 follows Elizabeth through her later years
during which she has an equally passionate affair with the
young ambitious Earl of Essex, who has been raised, ironically
by his stepfather Leicester. Ultimately, Elizabeth I sheds
light on one of the most popular members of the monarchy who
held power over everything-except her heart...
indulge this reviewer: it must be quite a feat for him to
view this 211-minute miniseries – in one sitting. No
fast-forwards, no skipping of chapters, no falling asleep
(I can feel all you guilty counterparts hanging your heads
in shame already).
because this HBO Films production is one engaging watch, thanks
to a certain Dame Helen Mirren who plays Queen Elizabeth I
in her last somewhat sympathetic years of her life. Split
into two parts, the epic series looks at her loving relationships
with two different men (played by a stoic Jeremy Irons and
an amiable Hugh Dancy). At the same time, the ruler of the
country must deal with matters like war, betrayal and treason.
not that easy being a leader, you know.
Hooper-directed movie never lets down its guard (like Her
Majesty herself), keeping you on the edge by displaying fine
details of 16th century Old England, a grand cinematography
by Dmitrij Gribanov and Larry Smith, a steady score by Robert
Smith and a well-rounded cast that would impress anyone with
a taste for good performance.
series would shame any second-rate Hollywood movie shown on
the big screens.
than Irons’ (Kingdom of Heaven, Eragon) sturdy portrayal
as the Earl of Leicester and Dancy’s (King Arthur, Basic
Instinct 2) ambitious expose of the Earl of Essex, expect
to see other familiar faces like Toby Jones (Infamous, The
Painted Veil) as a well-loved pygmy official and Ian McDiarmid
(Star Wars: Episode I – III, Sleepy Hollow) as a regal
lord who crosses paths with Her Majesty.
Mirren’s outstanding performance as the woman who yearns
for love amidst the thick walls of her well-guarded castle
– it is no wonder that the 62-year-old actress won both
the Emmy and the Golden Globe for her heartrending feat as
the misunderstood ruler. Whether it is her elaborate costume
design, the well-kept hair pieces, or the cakes of white foundation
makeup, this queen is a force to behold.
as any self-respecting movie buff would tell you, Dame Mirren
also bagged an Oscar for her role as HM Queen Elizabeth II
in Stephen Frears’ The Queen. No doubt about it, this
lady is the Queen, and has managed to captivate this reviewer’s
attention for a whole three and a half hours.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
A pleasant surprise, because this Code 3 DVD contains
a quite a fair bit of bonus features that provides context
to history idiots like this humble reviewer.
Elizabeth I – This 17-minute featurette sees
the cast, mainly Mirren, Irons and Dancy speaking up for their
own characters in the film. Love, politics and power: such
forces are finely intertwined in this rich emotional drama.
Uncovering the Real Elizabeth I – The brief
but sufficient 7-minute segment has author/historian Dr. David
Starkey chatting about how the real Elizabeth I probably behaved
in the 16th century. Interestingly, he makes references to
Shakespeare plays, and err, a certain Clinton-Lewinsky relationship
Scenes – There are 19 minutes worth of deleted
scenes here, which includes the Earl of Leicester hunting
for stags with Elizabeth I, the Earl of Essex getting advice
from his stepfather in the heavy rain and conniving betrayers
plotting against the queen in a tavern. If all of them made
it to the cut, it will, well, make the total runtime 19 minutes
Reveals – And I was wondering where the filmmakers
managed to locate such picturesque backdrops. Thanks to technology,
many of the architecture were added in post production. You
have to see it to believe it in this 5-minute sequence –
The disc’s visual transfer makes 16th century England
look magnificently grand, while the English audio track is
available in 2.0 Dolby Digital.
by John Li