Indian-born Shekhar Kapur, who acknowledges his being the least likely of candidates for the picture, directs the film with a spacious lens. This is a rare costume drama that doesn’t shroud itself in stuffiness, but rather breathes easily in its aesthetics (with much credit belonging to the makeup and wardrobe departments; the former took home the picture’s sole Oscar). But it’s still a period piece (on a subject fated for the AMPAS and BAFTAs), no matter how the misused, contemporary editing techniques may lead our minds. Contrarily, the modern glow about Elizabeth is so refreshing I’m half tempted to call The Virgin Queen Liz, or if she lets her hair down, Lizzy.
As with most historical dramas, accuracies are sometimes back-burnered. Elizabeth’s anti-textbook approach works for the film. What comes out of Richard Attenborough’s portrayal of trusted advisor William Cecil, for example, is remarkable, even if the actor is nearly twice in years than what Cecil would have been during the time of the Queen’s reign. The rest of the supporting cast is commendable as well. There is Jospeh Fiennes as Robert Dudley, Elizabeth’s lover in a sequence that can only be likened to the most elegant of ballets. Geoffrey Rush shines as well as the careful Sir Francis Walshingham, Mary of Guise’s assassin, with Christopher Eccleston the Duke of Norfolk who conspires to kill the Queen.
The murders (in an homage to The Godfather’s climax), like the exquisite dances, are executed with precision and dread, devised in a Shakespearean manner [note the fluent usage of red]. This is, after all, a historical drama with enough creation to make the film more of a lively story than a 3-credit course at University.
The Making of Elizabeth (24:53): A number of cast/crew members sit down on the set for a lengthy discussion on the film. Kapur and Blanchett’s commentary is most notable, with both offering up a slim analysis of the film and Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth Featurette (6:04): A self-congratulatory promotional piece that, compared to the previous feature, is wasteful.
Sneak Peek of Elizabeth: The Golden Age (5:50): Here it is, the only reason Focus Features unveiled this “new” DVD. But they’ve done their job—like I needed another reason to get to the theater this year.
And the Theatrical Trailer and Photo Gallery.