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
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
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