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ELIZABETH

About The Production
ELIZABETH is the latest production from Working Title Films, Britain's most successful production company, which boasts credits that include FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, DEAD MAN WALKING, FARGO, BEAN, and THE BORROWERS

ELIZABETH is the latest production from Working Title Films, Britain's most successful production company, which boasts credits that include FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, DEAD MAN WALKING, FARGO, BEAN, and THE BORROWERS.

Explaining the attraction of bringing ELIZABETH to the screen, Alison Owen says, "We had often talked about doing a 'modern' film about a historical character. We had discussed Boadicea, Henry VIII, Guy Fawkes, and Cromwell, but I was happy when Elizabeth I was decided upon, as it had so much potential for a modern audience." Tim Bevan adds, "We were keen to do a period movie, but one that wasn't in the recent tradition of what I call 'frock flicks.' We wanted to avoid, as it were, the Merchant Ivory approach, and we thought it would be great to do a picture set in Tudor times, as that was the most exciting of historical periods. We settled on Elizabeth I and her early life, a period that hasn't been particularly well documented on the screen, and one which would give us more dramatic life. We also wanted to stamp a contemporary feel onto our story, and with the early part of her reign being filled with such uncertainty, we decided to structure it as a conspiracy thriller."

Alison Owen continues, "We were a lot more influenced by films like 'The Godfather' than by previous historical dramas. Although it is a film that is very true in spirit to the Tudor times, historical veracity has not been our main point of contact. We have not changed facts but manipulated time periods. In doing so, we have given our film so many things to attract an audience. At the heart of it is a wonderful love story."

She adds, "For me, it was very appealing that the central character is a woman. Her story seemed to have lots of parallels with modern twentieth-century women who are often faced with that choice between career and personal life. It is a dilemma many contemporary women are trying to resolve in their own lives that Elizabeth had to face. She had to give up the chance of marriage and children in order to achieve stability in the country. I thought that was very interesting."

Tim Bevan says, "To bring the elements together, we put the project out to two or three writers, one of whom was Michael Hirst. He reacted to it immediately and worked out a whole construction. It was his idea to end the movie with the Queen painting her face and becoming the icon we all know and the person where most movies about her would start. We commissioned Michael to do a first draft, and although much has evolved since then, the bricks and mortar of the structure of the story were very much laid in that first draft."

With a script in place, Working Title then set out to find a director to take on the challenge of bringing to the screen a historical-based story with a contemporary feel.

"We put it out to a few English directors," said Bevan, "but soon decided to widen the net to attract a director who would really interpret it, and not get bogged down with the sort of tradition that we have of our own history. We met with Shekhar Kapur and he immediately responded to the material. Shekhar knew nothing about Elizabeth I when he came to it, and so, in many ways, his journey is the film's journey. He has learnt about this character and this period of history, and has brought a completely different sensibility to the movie than any western director would h

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