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4 Film Collection: Shakespeare In Love / Elizabeth / Elizabeth: The Golden Age / The Other Bolelyn Girl [DVD]
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Collection of four big-budget Tudor dramas. The Tom Stoppard-penned period comedy, 'Shakespeare in Love' (1998), won seven Oscars, including those for Best Picture, Actress, Supporting Actress (Judi Dench) and Original Screenplay. In late 16th century London, the theatre's most promising young playwright, Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes), is suffering from writer's block. Rose Theatre owner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) is desperate that Will's new play - tentatively entitled 'Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter' - be finished, whilst a new cast member, Thomas Kent, is equally eager to make his stage debut. Kent has a secret however: 'he' is actually Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow), merchant's daughter and fiancee of Lord Wessex (Colin Firth). Adopting a disguise to enter a trade forbidden to women, matters become complicated when Will falls for her in her more conventional garb. It may take the intervention of Queen Elizabeth (Dench) herself to make sure the course of true love runs smoothly and that the show goes on. In 'Elizabeth' (1998) it's 1554, and England is ruled by the fervently Catholic Queen Mary (Kathy Burke), whose persecution of Protestants even extends to her own half-sister, Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett). When Mary dies, Elizabeth succeeds to the throne, but finds her country under threat from the Scots, French and Spanish. Although conducting an affair with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester (Fiennes), Elizabeth is urged by her advisors to wed and produce an heir. Meanwhile, plots against her are being hatched by the Catholic bishops, and Elizabeth soon becomes the target of an assassination attempt. In 'Elizabeth: The Golden Age' (2007), Blanchett reprises her role as the 'Virgin Queen'. This time round Elizabeth has to contend with the rising power of Spain, as Philip II (Jordi Molla) readies an armada for invasion, intent on returning England to Catholic influence. While her trusty servant Sir Francis Walsingham (Rush) works tirelessly to protect her from numerous plots, Elizabeth discovers she has a potential weakness in her fondness for Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen). Finally, 'The Other Boleyn Girl' (2008) is a fictionalised account of the life of Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson) who was mistress to King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) before he married her sister, Anne (Natalie Portman). Set during one of the most dramatic periods in British regal history, the narrative focuses on the relationship and rivalry between the two Boleyn girls and the power game being played by their family in which the sisters are mere pawns. When Mary is ousted in favour of Anne, she leaves the King's Court to marry a commoner, but is compelled to return when her sister embarks on a reckless plan to try and save herself from ruin.