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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous historical drama
Films about Elizabeth I are hardly thin on the ground, but this one is something special, driven by a mesmerising performance from Helen Mirren and a taut, intelligent script. The drama plays out in the second half of Elizabeth's reign, which makes for drama just as dramatic as her early years.
Mirren approaches the Virgin Queen as part coquette, part dominatrix,...
Published on 10 April 2006

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed production
I should like to comment first on the positive aspects of this 240-minute two-parter on the life of Elizabeth I in her later years. Helen Mirren gives us a fine, gutsy performance and a worthy interpretation of one of our most famous and wilful monarchs. Like many I have grown up seeing Helen in a wide variety of roles and she always adds something special to any part she...
Published on 29 Oct 2006 by Steve


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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous historical drama, 10 April 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
Films about Elizabeth I are hardly thin on the ground, but this one is something special, driven by a mesmerising performance from Helen Mirren and a taut, intelligent script. The drama plays out in the second half of Elizabeth's reign, which makes for drama just as dramatic as her early years.
Mirren approaches the Virgin Queen as part coquette, part dominatrix, part earth mother, and many shades in between. The result is a portrait that accurately reflects what we know of Elizabeth's fascinating character. In Mirren's hands, Elizabeth emerges like a great lost Shakesperean role. It is a brilliant turn from this most compelling of actresses.
The supporting cast are also superb, with a well-cast Jeremy Irons as Elizabeth's great love-that-never-was, the Earl of Leicester. The performances are combined with sumptous production values that give a real flavour of the times (with some particuarly flavoursome execution scenes).
This is essential viewing. Full stop.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed production, 29 Oct 2006
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
I should like to comment first on the positive aspects of this 240-minute two-parter on the life of Elizabeth I in her later years. Helen Mirren gives us a fine, gutsy performance and a worthy interpretation of one of our most famous and wilful monarchs. Like many I have grown up seeing Helen in a wide variety of roles and she always adds something special to any part she plays. In this film, amongst supporting actors mention could be made of Hugh Dancy as the Earl of Essex who gives the part plenty of youthful dash and Patrick Malahide is very good as Walsingham. Also, for want of a better word, the `blood' scenes in the film are shockingly well done and if you want to attend a beheading without doing so then watch this film.

The recreation of the set and scenery for the film was a skilful combination of design and cgi and was utterly convincing. In fact amongst the extras on disk one you'll find a fascinating collection of clips showing via a screen wipe how, before your eyes, the original shot footage changes into the final generated film. The extras also contain some deleted scenes, at least one of which could usefully have made the final cut of the film, in my view.

Some spoilers follow so you might want to skip the next paragraph.

The film shows Elizabeth meeting Mary Queen of Scots. The dialogue tells us this is a secret meeting where all witnesses are sworn to silence so presumably the screenwriter's thinking is that the meeting has never come down to us. However, it must be said there has a never been a whisper over the intervening four centuries that such a meeting took place and it goes flat against all the known facts we have. An exchange that is certainly well known to us is where Elizabeth asked, famously, "How high is she? Is she higher than me?" On hearing the answer `yes', Elizabeth concluded, "Then she is too high for I am just the right height." Elizabeth was terrified of and fascinated by her unknown rival. This mystery, which would have been dispelled by a personal meeting, fuelled in part her fear. There's nothing wrong with conjecture in itself, of course, but the episode where Elizabeth meets Mary is included seamlessly into the film as `fact' and that irreversibly undermines the plot, in my opinion. The same strange device (a secret meeting) is used again in the film as we are shown Elizabeth in conversation with James VI of Scotland. Once again there has never been a breath of a suggestion of a rumour that such a momentous meeting took place, behind closed doors, and had it taken place it would counter all the facts we definitely do have of the dramatic takeover that Cecil engineered.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, sweeping portrayal of Elizabeth from age 45 to her death at 69. Helen Mirren shines, 3 Jun 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
This may be a television mini-series but it has the quality, detail and acting superiority of an excellent motion picture. Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) has been on the throne for twenty years. It's 1579 and she is 45 years old. We meet her at the conclusion of a discrete but public examination to establish for all to know that she is capable of bearing a child. The need for her to marry, both to ensure an heir and to ensure her survival as Queen, obsesses her councilors. For Elizabeth, it's not so simple. She is not just a queen, but a sovereign ruler, anointed, in her words, by God. She has the same passionate need for love and intimacy as her subjects. She probably realizes that marriage, in her era, would most likely lead to her own inevitable subordination to her husband if he is English or the subordination of the country to another country if he is foreign. She most probably realizes that by not making a choice, she keeps all the choices on the bargaining table.

And, of course, there is the question of her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, now a prisoner but a continuing threat to her rule, whom her councillors want dead. There is her own passionate nature focussed on Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons), and, later, on the young Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy). One will die in bed; one will lose his head. There are religious issues so deeply held they could, and have, split the nation. Before long, there will be the threat of Spanish invasion to deal with. Through it all, Elizabeth procrastinates, twists and turns, takes a step forward and then one back. If we didn't already know her story so well, we might be surprised when we realize that in time the religious question is finessed with little violence, that Mary is dealt with, that the Spanish fail, that her people come to love her (more or less), that she invariably chooses her councilors well and they become dedicated to her, that she will be the one to make the final decisions and that rebellion is a fatal choice for those who disagree with her, even if they are one of her favorites. She is, in fact, a ruler who makes mistakes, can be swayed by vanity and avoids choices, but who when it matters makes the right choices.

Helen Mirren does a masterful job, taking Elizabeth from 45 to Elizabeth's death at 69. Elizabeth could be fickle and imperious, but she had a core of steel, particularly when it came to defending her realm and her prerogatives. Mirren is such a dynamic and skilled actor it is entirely believable that the young Earl of Essex just might find the aging Queen an agreeable and intimate companion. Mirren is equally believable in demonstrating the iron will of a Queen who moves against someone she may well have loved.

Mirren is at her best in dealing with complex emotions. When Elizabeth at last is brought to sign the order of execution for Mary but then tells the clerk to keep her action secret and not to show the document to anyone until she tells him, Mirren gives us a subtle portrait of Elizabeth, a Queen who knows it's in her best interests to have Mary executed but who flinches from being the one to make the order happen. At some level, Elizabeth must know that her order will not be kept secret, that it will be given to her councillors and that Walsingham will see to it that the execution takes place immediately. As Walsingham says, the Queen wants Mary executed but doesn't want to be the one responsible. It's a complex set of motives and emotions that Mirren has to display; they range from her reluctant signing to her hysteria when she learns Mary has been executed.

Equally impressive is Mirren demonstrating the ability of Elizabeth to rouse the rabble with a combination of patriotism and bravado. She does a bravura job with Elizabeth's famous words before her army awaiting the Spanish invasion: "Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too!"

While Mirren dominates the story, all the actors are excellent. In major roles, in addition to Irons and Dancy, there is Patrick Malahyde as Sir Francis Walsingham, Toby Jones as Robert Cecil, Barbara Flynn as Mary and Ian McDiarmid as William Cecil. The production is sumptuous and the DVD picture is immaculate.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 6 Nov 2006
By 
O. Doyle "celticshedevil" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
Elizabeth is a two-part mini-series about the life and later years of Queen Elizabeth I. Helen Mirren received great acclaim for her portrayal of Elizabeth and I have to say it was definitely well deserved. She plays the part of `The Virgin Queen' to perfection and with Jeremy Irons in support as her lover, The Earl of Leicester, Elizabeth is a downright winner.

There is a mixture of a love story, scandal, humour galore and a few executions for the gore-hungry in the audience. The costumes were amazing, the plot flawless and the script very cleverly written. It will take some doing to find a depiction of Elizabeth that will rival this one. It's just that good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING DRAMA, 29 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
An excellent two part drama on Elizabeth I. Helen Mirren is outstanding as the Queen with a good supporting cast and fine production values. Highly recommended.Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!!!, 5 Jan 2007
By 
Lauraloo (Gloucestershire, England GB) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
This version gripped me more than Anne Marie Duff's "The Virgin Queen" (although the soundtrack to that is great) and I now really feel sorry for Elizabeth. Although of course materialistically she had the best standard of living than anyone in the country at that time but the heartache she must have felt just doing her honour to the country we cannot imagine.
There are very graphic execution scenes in this film. But we have to remember that the Elizabethan's saw death everyday. Public executions, public torture and to go back to that era fully as shocking and gory as it is for us in the 21st century, it was an everyday thing for anyone living in the 16th century.
I was taught at school that Elizabeth 1 was heartless, ruthless and basically a nasty piece of work but after watching Mirren's take on her I think the complete opposite and I think anyone else watching this will feel the same.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 14 July 2014
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
it was just as described, received package very quickly would definately do business again. A+++
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5.0 out of 5 stars dvd, 13 April 2014
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
This was bought for a friend but I watched it first(by mutual consent). very good film but I know it was on the TV at some stage but I missed it. Cheers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An older Gloriana, but much wiser, 19 July 2013
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
Helen Mirren is superb in the role of Elizabeth I and she and Jeremy Irons make a very credible, older couple. The film is very realistic - the execution scenes are pretty horrifying as nothing is left to the imagination - and the settings were well chosen. The cast is excellent, particularly Ian MacDiarmaid as Cecil, so a 5 star rating. Well worth watching a couple of times.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising & Electric!!!This is "THE" best Elizabeth by far,and such good value for your money!!, 18 Jun 2013
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Mrs. D. Surrey "Castell" (Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elizabeth I [DVD] (DVD)
What a film,what a film!!
Wonderful acting by an actress who is top of the league,namely Helen Mirren.Then we have the man who for me made this film so powerful,so strong,so memorable.His name?? Jeremy Irons of course.This has to be one of his all time greats in his illustrious career.

Elizabeth and Leicester,the beautiful romance that carries on through the ensuing centuries.Their devotion to each other throughout the first half was sheer electricity ~~ his jealousy,her tantrums,his banishment from court for 7 years,and then the wonderful scene of his re-instatement,the love that could not be broken.

I loved the part played by the Duke of Anjou.We were expecting an ugly old man,bent and twisted,and,then voila! "What did we see!" but a handsome virile man in his prime who captivated Elizabeth and broke old Leicesters heart.But, as with all loves in Elizabeths life,marriage was not to be alas,as she waved him adieu from an awe inspiring scenery of how London and the Thames must have looked at that time.

We must not forget the Scottish Queen,Mary ~~ the perennial thorn in Elizabeths side.How sad to see this devoutly Catholic Queen,despised by all,including her son James the 1st.Then the scene of Mary being decapitated.Dreadful,truly dreadful,especially when the axeman missed her neck and plunged the axe blade into poor Mary's skull instead.

There was also plenty of Tudor brutality too,as we see men hung,drawn and quartered in the most gruesome way imagineable.The crowds apparently enjoying this awful spectacle.

If you love Elizabethan history then this is a must.The background music is just right,absolutely perfect.It has the elevation of choral Cathedral music,down to heart rending,tenderness with violin strings of sorrow.

I always say,a good film is exactly like a good book.You can watch it over and over again and yet,you never tire of it.

A film to treasure.
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Elizabeth I [DVD] by Tom Hooper (DVD - 2006)
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