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52
4.5 out of 5 stars
Elizabeth I [DVD]
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2006
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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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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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34 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 6 November 2006
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
on 19 July 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2012
I bought this DVD as I have keen interest in the Tudor period of history. I have read many books and viewed a most of the fims produced about this era and had remembered seeing this particular TV production and wanted to reaquaint myself. I was not disappointed! The characters were brought to life by the excellent casting of Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2015
England's greatest monarch without a doubt! She showed her magnificent Tudor mettle when she went down to Tilbury to rouse her army with the famous speech, brilliantly done by Britains greatest actress Helen Mirren, who was born to play her!
All in all,should have been an Oscar laden film, more than a t v mini series.
Top marks all round!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2011
All in all I found the film quite well. But for me, there is one major drawback.
After having already seen Helen Mirren as Elizabeth II, I was very disappointed with her portrayal of Elizabeth I.
I can not imagine that a country could have been ruled so successful by a Queen either wailing, crying or behaving like a pubescent 14 year old the whole day through.
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on 23 March 2013
I think this Elizabeth 1 dvd is the best one I've seen. There have been many other actressess playing the part, I think
Helen Mirren is up there with the best of them. Brilliant acting from all the cast. A must-buy if you love History.
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on 22 February 2015
Excellent movie , thoroughly enjoyable , would recommend this DVD to others interested in this period of Tudor history .Helen Mirren`s portrayal Of Elizabeth I is outstanding and easily on par with that of the legendary Glenda Jackson .
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2007
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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