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Helen Mirren stars as Elizabeth I in the two-part Channel 4 drama written by Nigel Williams. The drama portrays 'The Virgin Queen' in her later years, exposing the conflict between her sense of duty and the instincts of her heart, her doomed affair with the Earl of Essex and the struggles of a powerful, independent woman battling to survive in a male dominated world.
Released to Buy:
10 April 2006
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By Mal Simons, Blockbuster.co.uk
“I know that I have 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.”
Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons star in this magnificent Emmy-award winning movie based on the rule of the great Virgin Queen. Based on historical accounts and using Elizabeth’s own speeches, this film is a very intimate view of one of Britain’s greatest rulers and one of the greatest dramas we’ve seen in a long time.
Elizabeth I (1533-1603) was one of the most popular and powerful Queens of England of all time. A unique figure in royal history – a woman who took over the bankrupted kingdom of England while it was surrounded by its enemies, refused to marry a suitor, successfully defended the country against a massive attack by Spain, the clear superpower of the time and managed to leave England as one of the strongest nations in the world.
At the start of the mini-series, Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) has ruled for twenty years. While financially, the country is better off than when she first came to power, both her and the country are in danger from an attack by France and Spain. England is a protestant country, and the Pope has declared Elizabeth a heretic and has declared that all Catholics (and Catholic countries), should do what they can to put a Catholic back on the throne and England back to the church. The series opens with Elizabeth reluctantly agreeing to marry the heir to the French throne in order to guarantee England’s safety.
“I think the French make better acquaintances than friends.”
The match doesn’t work out, much to the pleasant surprise of Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons). He has loved Elizabeth since before she came to the throne and although she turned down his previous marriage proposal, they remain close friends but he wants them to be more. When Leicester marries another, she banishes him from the court for seven years, in the first part of the series, the first 90 minute movie, the film covers this and right up to the end of the attack by the Spanish Armada. The second movie covers the period shortly after the English victory, the Queen’s infatuation with Dudley’s son, the Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy), her own ruthlessness in securing her legacy, the great victory over a second Armada, the attempted coup and follows the Queen up to her death.
This is an extraordinary two part series – one which comes to an end much too soon. The acting is outstanding with Mirren, Irons, Dancy and co-stars giving stand out performances. This comes highly recommended to rent, add to your list now!
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