- Elizabeth: Polygram Films (1998)
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 33, Number 2, 2003
- pp. 78-80
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Film Reviews | Regular Feature a certain degree ofdéjà vu for those who frequented the Cineplex. In addition to the action movie types aforementioned, many visual elements look like those we have seen before. Jekyll/Hyde reminds one of the Bruce Banner/Hulk dynamic, and Harker, at film's end, appears dressed very much like The Matrix's Trinity. That The League ofExtraordinary Gentlemen is often derivative and that its characters are rather flat, does not constitute a death knell for the film. Even the plot implausibilities, most notably a car chase throughout the streets (?) ofVenice, which have prompted the ire of more than a few critics, are to some degree excusable. All ofthese flaws are part and parcel of most summer action movie fare. Certainly, the action movie geme has been criticized for some time for its lack ofcharacter development and its reliance on gratuitous violence. But, then, most viewers flock to the theaters to see just this kind of film. And this is where The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ultimately disappoints. It disappoints in the divide between the conception and the rather pedestrian execution. Despite the literary pretensions of the premise, and despite a few quick allusions to the rich world of nineteenth-century fiction, it is simply, and little more than, an action film. It could have been so much more. Marc Oxoby University of Nevada, Reno moxoby@ aol.com Elizabeth Polygram Films (1998). The historical film genre is usually not one that modern audiences race to the theaters for; in fact it can be somewhat of a turn off in an age of short attention spans. Although there are definitely some exceptions to this—for instance, Steven Spielberg's motion picture successesAmistad and Saving Private Ryan—for the most part, viewers tend to assume that a historically based film will be too tedious to bother with. Furthermore, replicating times long past is undoubtedly complicated and timeconsuming ; accuracy is difficult to attain for those who were not present to witness events firsthand. So, with all these obstacles to overcome, how does a filmmaker approach such a project? More specifically, how does one accomplish such a feat when dramatizing the life of one of England's most beloved queens? Queen Elizabeth I was born at Greenwich Palace on September 7, 1533 to King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. As a child, Elizabeth was given an impressive education, and from an early age it was clear that she was remarkably gifted, especially in the study oflanguages (she could speak five fluently by adulthood). After the death of her elder sister Queen Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic, Elizabeth was crowned queen on January 15, 1559. Soon after, she brought the Protestant religion back to the country with the Elizabethan "Settlement ofReligion." One of the most notable facts about Elizabeth was that she never married or had children. Instead, she used her single state to cleverly manipulate her potential enemies, either by baiting them with the prospect ofmarriage or frightening them with the suggestion that she might marry one oftheir foes. Without any children in line to succeed her, though, she was left more open to assassination attempts from those who had some claim to the throne. Despite that, she ruled for almost five decades, until her death in 1603. All ofthese basic biographical details are present in the 1998 film Elizabeth, but in it, a large span ottime is compressed into a fiveyear period in order to keep the running length down to two hours. This is not the first time that Queen Elizabeth's reign has been depicted in a movie; in 1971 the BBC miniseries Elizabeth R, starring Glenda Jackson, focused more on Elizabeth's political career than her personal life. The 1998 film, though, directed by Shekhar Kapur and written by Michael Hirst, focuses more on the romance between Elizabeth and long-time friend and advisor Robert Dudley and the turmoil caused by the country's controversial switch from Catholicism to Protestantism. It is likely that Kapur and Hirst made this choice in order to appeal to film audiences that may normally have been discouraged by the historical drama genre. Movies made with a...