“I am married to England” I a daring statement by Queen Elizabeth at the cease of the film that summarizes her transformation from a naïve and sensual young woman to a hard-hearted queen of England.
The film is base a political and religious firestorm that shapes the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1. The movie is written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and stars Cate Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth 1.
The movie may not be traditionally accurate, but it brings out the emotions in the transformation of Queen Elizabeth 1 from a naïve lady into a strong and hard-hearted queen. Its intriguing story illustrates the struggle of Elizabeth to survive against conspiracies in her courtroom, church, and battlefields, in an otherwise male-dominated ruling class.
Body Paragraph 1: Prior to transformation
When Elizabeth ascends to power, she is naïve, sensual, young and hot headed.
Elizabeth is the starring character that depicts the evolution of an outgoing and fun loving girl into the most powerful woman in England. Born of a royal lineage, she ascends to power at the age of 23 after the death of her half-sister Queen Mary. She depicts the struggles of a woman in male-dominated ruling class, against conspiracy and political and religious rivalries. It is a battle into self-discovery against external pressures to conform to the norms.
Elizabeth survives the wrath of her sister’s reign to become a queen of a catholic nation, though she is a protestant. She is fidgety and unsure of herself in the new role. She is depicted to be politically inexperienced and with a self-indulgent obsession for Lord Robert Dudley.
Kapur cinematic technique involves narrating the story through minute details while withholding the epic scope. He keeps the main action in the background blurry while choosing to focus on the main object. The use of political voiceover helps to illustrate the political and religious tension that engulf Queen Elizabeth’s reign. A long shot is used to show the transformation of Queen Elizabeth while maintaining the flow of the film.
The transformation of Elizabeth into a hard-hearted Queen is shaped by her early experiences as a young girl.
Body Paragraph 2: Cause of Transformation
Elizabeth transforms from a naïve, soft and kind hearted girl into one of the most feared and hard-hearted queen in England due to the conspiracies, betrayals and grubby ambitions that characterized England during her early reign.
Elizabeth had to survive as protestant in a catholic dominated country during her half-sister’s reign. The ineffectual support of Sir William Cecil and the courtroom betrayals and conspiracies starts her transformation. The threats from France, Scotland, and France force her to become more ruthless to strengthen the position of England against its enemies.
Sir William Cecil warns Queen Elizabeth that she is “only a woman” when faced with the threats of a French invasion. This warning strengthens her resolves to succeed against stacked odds. Kapur and his cinematographer do well to use stunning visuals, rich colors, close-ups, mysterious shadows, quick cuts and candle lit interiors to create tension in the transition of events. The swirls of intrigue that face her vary from those who want to take power from her and those who want her dead. The quick pace of the movie at this point makes it hard to decipher who will betray her and how it will end.
The dismissal of her chief advisor, Sir William Cecil is a bold move that shows the queen has transformed from a naïve self to and independent ruler who is ready to make her own decisions.
Body Paragraph 3: During Transformation
Elizabeth must struggle through a world of religious and political intrigues and conspiracy that threaten her independence, power, and life in order to become who she wants to be. She must overcome her struggle for identity and independence. Although she states that she is a “no man’s Elizabeth,” she seems to remain dependent on her spy Walsingham to survive.
The comparison of Elizabeth with Mary of Guise of Scotland shows the extent of transformation Elizabeth must go through. While Mary is authoritative, Elizabeth is painted as emotional and defenseless.
Elizabeth is caught in a situation where she has to make a choice between the old and new way of thinking. She decides to get the Act of Uniformity passed by the parliament in order to unite the different Abraham religions in the country. She is faced with resistances from bishops who are opposed to war and breaking with Rome. Through her Act of Uniformity, she is set to unite the religious divisions, tame external threats, and establish England as a protestant country.
Achieving religious uniformity is a transformation that sees Elizabeth establishes her reign in England. However, she can only achieve complete transformation through gaining complete power over men’s hearts like Virgin Mary. She cuts her hair and tells her confidant, “Kat, I have become a virgin.” At this point, she seems to give up her sensuality and emotional nature in order to become an effective queen.
Body Paragraph 4: After transformation
Queen Elizabeth achieves her transformation from a soft and naïve girl into a hard-hearted Queen through self –independence, and religious and political transformations. Her proclamation as a “Virgin Queen,” illustrates her complete transformation from a woman who was sensual and vulnerable to a strict and hard-hearted queen ready to rule with a hand of steel.
At the end of the film, Elizabeth surrenders her soul and body to the country. She declares that she is married to England to show her commitment to the needs of the country. This transformation makes her forget Robert, who she had a long affair with. In the end, she achieves an immortal status in the heart of men. However, one question that lingers is, “can a woman be successful both emotionally and politically?”
When she paints herself white, Elizabeth signifies her virginity and legendary status. The impressive cast and the beautifully photographed scene illustrate the importance of this scene.
The film portrays the transformation the queen must go through in order to be successful. It is an important transformation that makes her address the needs of her country without distractions. She becomes lethal and ultimately a leader to be adored by her people.
Body Paragraph 5: Conclude
The film depicts the Queen Elizabeth’ reign into 5 years. Although historically inaccurate, it brings out the major themes of betrayal, intrigues, and grubby ambitions of the bloodthirsty England that shape her transformation from a sensual and naïve girl into a hard-hearted queen.
Elizabeth’s transformation mirrors the political and religious transformation of England. The transformation of Elizabeth illustrates the struggles of a modern woman to become politically and emotionally successful in a male-dominated ruling class.
“Must I be made of stone?” Elizabeth question to Walsingham illustrates her need for transformation into an emotionless being in order to become effective ruler.
Elizabeth: The Movie. Dir. Shekhar Kapur. Polygram, London, 1998. Film