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Clive Owen
Geoffrey Rush
Cate Blanchett
Abbie Cornish
Samantha Morton.
Shekhar Kapur.
Michael Hirst
William Nicholson.
Running Time
180 minutes

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Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Cate Blanchett retuns to the role.

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While facing danger from overseas, in the form of the Spanish Armada, and from the Babbington Plot at home, Elizabeth I (Blanchett) finds her world thrown into further turmoil when the roguish Sir Walter Raleigh (Owen) arrives at court…

Elizabeth: The Golden Age
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Director Shekhar Kapur is an artist who favours an epic canvas, and this sequel to his 1998 Elizabeth paints a mythic portrait. While the first film looked at survival, love and the loss of innocence when the prize is absolute power, The Golden Age considers the question of what happens when that power, so dearly bought, is threatened, and how a mortal woman shapes herself into a goddess to hold onto it.

Elizabeth I was a Queen driven by ambition, and Kapur captures her quest to search beyond the ordinary and grasp at immortality, echoing her ardour by reaching beyond the conventional boundaries of genre. He jokingly terms his first journey into this world ‘the Trainspotting version of the English costume drama’; in which case this could be his Sunshine - more ambitious, more complex but perhaps a little muddied. Kapur could not end the film, he says, without his Queen gazing on the divine. In the climatic battle scenes, Elizabeth achieves her higher purpose: the wind changes, the Armada is doomed, and it is clear that God has shown her his favour ahead of that Most Catholic King, Philip II of Spain (Jordi Mollà, leader of a nation of cartoonishly villainous Papists).

The film opens in 1585, three years before the Spanish Armada sets sail, but concerns itself as much with Elizabeth’s life at court as it does with her foreign policy. Blending the epic with the personal is no easy task, and the film’s scattered exterior shots seem at odds with the intimacy of the long stretches that Elizabeth spends in the company of Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) and her ladies in waiting (chief among them Abbie Cornish’ Bess Throckmorton). The CGI-rendered finale, with its large-scale sea-borne swashbuckling is the most jarring moment of all.

But it is in the intimate moments that the film finds its heart. Kapur casts Bess as a projection of the Queen as a girl, and in Raleigh he finds someone who can show the monarch what it is to be mortal: to love, but also to feel pain and jealousy. Elizabeth hopes to use Bess as a vessel to control Raleigh, but learns instead that she must rise above her human desires if she is to achieve her destined state. When in the final scenes she approaches Bess and Raleigh’s newborn child, she does so to offer a divine blessing.

Owen’s buccaneering Raleigh arrives at court bearing those most treasured gifts, chips and fags, and is laden with a generous serving of twinkling charm. He is at his best when playing the enchanting rogue, and his sparking exchanges with Elizabeth kindle in the Virgin Queen a passion that her royal suitors fail to match. Beyond her brief flirtation, however, Elizabeth passes her passion for this dashing seaman onto Cornish’s Bess, in whom we can see the naivety and innocence that Elizabeth has had to forgo.

Cate Blanchett is again supreme in her regal role, and if the Academy overlooked her performance a decade ago, they may yet reward her come next year: providing, of course, that they can acknowledge a Queen Elizabeth two years running. Geoffrey Rush, too, excels in his reprisal of Walsingham, finding great depth in a character wounded by the Babbington plot, and coming to realise that his own powers are on the wane. If the remaining characters seem slight, it is not without reason: in Kapur’s tale, like Elizabeth, they must serve the higher good.

Over-indulgent and melodramatic, as is the nature of artistic mythmaking, The Golden Age will beguile and repel in equal measure. The performances are supreme, although some viewers may struggle to reconcile the director’s epic intentions.

Reviewed by Will Lawrence

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Average user rating for Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Empire Star Rating

Elizabeth: The Golden Age Review

This sequel is full of lavish costumes and elaborate sets, but lacks the heart and creativity of the original Elizabeth. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 21:27, 19 January 2012 | Report This Post

Flashes of brilliance lost in melodrama

This is dumbed down, melodramatic, more one-dimensional and noisier than the previous film. Instead of a focus on creating a belivability in its story it aims for glossy filmic heights. You would forgive it because Blanchett does such a fine job and the film provides some fair entertainment once you accept its epic nature. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 19:19, 10 August 2011 | Report This Post

KIng Philip = You're boys took one hell of a beating!!!

I don't think its as good as the first but very well worth watching just to see the Spanish get put in their place. Some fantastic visuals during the battle scenes, and Blanchett and Rush are fantastic as usual ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by johncarrelson at 10:42, 10 July 2009 | Report This Post

weve had a glut of elizabeth drama in recent years with helen mirren and anne marie duff giving us there versions now cate is back with hers again they seem to have have toned down the sex and violence this time although a torture scene was pushing the.12 a envelope. having seen the mirren version there was some deja vu to the film but clive owen saves the film from being too pompous a touch of the errol flynns certainly in ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by quizkid at 11:53, 14 November 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Elizabeth:The Golden Age

L: Timon L: Dr Lenera And what's with Elizabeth giving a speech to troops who don't even fight,or one of the most stupid battle tactics ever seen on film uote] That's what fireships were. Ships you set fire to and sent at the enemy - it was a ploy that helped to defeat the Armada. Of course, they didn't plow into the fleet and set fire to them as shown in the film but rather caused them to scatter and get destroyed by the storm.....but they got it mostly right. . sp; and t... More

Posted by JagLover at 10:34, 08 November 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Elizabeth:The Golden Age

L: Dr Lenera And what's with Elizabeth giving a speech to troops who don't even fight,or one of the most stupid battle tactics ever seen on film uote]   That's what fireships were. Ships you set fire to and sent at the enemy - it was a ploy that helped to defeat the Armada. Of course, they didn't plow into the fleet and set fire to them as shown in the film but rather caused them to scatter and get destroyed by the storm.....but they got it mostly right. No idea why Ralegh w... More

Posted by Timon at 09:45, 08 November 2007 | Report This Post

Elizabeth:The Golden Age

What a disappointment. Director Shahkar Kapur made Elizabeth ten years ago,an example of how to do a costume drama right. It successfully brought a perhaps difficult subject to the screen,made it accesible and relevant and by the end had great power. Now comes his belated follow up,except this time it's more a case of how to do a costume drama wrong. Much of the intrigue and tension of the first film is either replaced by tedious scenes Elizabeth and Walter Raleigh mooning around,their che... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dr Lenera at 20:02, 07 November 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Beautifully Shot.. Over Indulgent

I agree in wishing the film was longer, I would of happily sat though another hour as I felt the assassination plot and the actual amarda itself felt rushed or as though story elements were cut. Fantastic performances and as said before, gorgeous to look at (my favourite shot being Elizabeth looking out to sea), 4 stars from me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hartigan at 00:14, 06 November 2007 | Report This Post

Beautifully Shot.. Over Indulgent

I loved the first Elizabeth, the innocent bastard who becomes Queen on England.. There was alot to absorb and be absorbed by, it was less fussy, less expensive, but more affecting. This second installment, sees Elizabeth ruling England and listening to her advisors... giving her subjects the freedom of speech and beleif, while there is a storm brewing across in Spain as the King has got his knickers in a twist... It is a gorgeous film to look at, the music was rousing, the customs were amaz... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by omarx at 23:53, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post

Golden Age

This was amazing from start to finish. The acting is excellent and its very well made. This one of those films that you really should see on the big screen if you want he best experiance. I was hoping this was going to be a bit longer but it was still amazing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by solid snake at 15:22, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post

RE: Stunning!

About as accurate as the first film in terms of The Babington Plot, Mary's involvement and Ralegh's general presence throughout the film.....but what the hell. Blatchett was fantastic once again and Owen did a decent job with Ralegh. Not sure why Dudley, Earl of Leicester wasn't in it (Joseph Fiennes from the first film) as he continued to be Elizabeth's favorite until his death after the Armada, then it's said she became taken with his son. Either way, the film's not about that. It's... More

Posted by Timon at 08:10, 05 November 2007 | Report This Post


So the history was a little...'different'! Who cares? This film is absolutly stunning, beautifully directed, incredibly performed and incredibly gripping from start to finish. Don't wait for the DVD, this film warrants big screen treatment. The score is one of the best ive heard. Can't praise it enough...go see it!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chaskins_2004 at 21:31, 02 November 2007 | Report This Post

Golden? Not quite.

I'm being slightly generous with 4 stars but i imagine on repeated viewings that this is what i would think of the film. Atm however, i'm slightly peeved at Shekhar Kapur. The man borders of genius and really very annoying director. He has a favourite type of shot that just didn't work for me. It was overused and so when it was in the right place, its effectivivity was negated because of prior overuse. And towards the end in a poignant scene, Rush is just not given the chance to act which is a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mafyou at 20:11, 02 November 2007 | Report This Post

Really Good.

I've just seen it and I enjoyed every moment of it. It's stunning, beatiful to look at and the acting was top notch. Cate Blanchett was brillant, she plays Elizabeth with pain, passion and bravely. Geoffrey Rush was also brillant, he is stunning yet sometimes meancsing. But Clive Owen was very handsome and dashing, wooing not only Elizabeth but her lady in waiting. He was so passionate and romantic, especially when he talked about the New World. This is a great movie, I definaly want to see it a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 17:05, 02 November 2007 | Report This Post

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