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ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE

About The Production
"I am called the Virgin Queen. Unmarried, I have no Master. Childless, I am Mother to my people. God give me strength to bear this mighty burden.” —Queen Elizabeth I

Released in 1998, the bold and visceral Elizabeth started out as a well-pedigreed art-house hit, and—buoyed by a bravura turn by then star-on-the-rise Cate Blanchett, an accomplished cast, superlative storytelling and sensual production values—it grew into an international phenomenon. Elizabeth was nominated for a total of seven Oscars® (including Best Picture and Best Actress for Blanchett, with makeup designer Jenny Shircore winning), 11 BAFTAs (winning six) and three Golden Globes (with Blanchett walking away with a statue). The magic seemed to lay in the filmmakers' vision of a great historical epic told in an iconoclastic and contemporary way—an approach rendering it accessible to a modern audience—and in Shekhar Kapur's direction (a reinvention of period drama through a decidedly Eastern sensibility).

During production of Elizabeth, the filmmakers discussed the idea of telling the story of Elizabeth I—from the young girl to the Queen who ruled nearly 45 years—in a trilogy of films. Says producer Tim Bevan, "Elizabeth the First's entire reign could not be told effectively in one film—it was so long and so much happened during it, and she encountered so many extraordinary people.”

Encouraged by the global success of Elizabeth, the discussions continued over the intervening years, and approximately five years after the completion of Elizabeth, the team felt the time was right to commission writers Michael Hirst (who penned the first film) and William Nicholson to begin work on the screenplay that would become Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

In Elizabeth, the story focused on the early (and somewhat uncertain) years of the fledgling ruler's reign. The young queen faced an uphill struggle to hold on to her throne, outfoxing conspirators and deceivers at every turn. Never certain which of her court and advisers could be trusted, the headstrong and savvy Elizabeth emerged at the end of the film as a Queen, firmly in charge of her destiny…

Elizabeth: The Golden Age commences a decade after the period covered in Elizabeth and examines the glorious middle years of her rule. On a political level, the film explores Elizabeth's conflict with Philip II of Spain, who—as the ruler of his own Catholic empire with the considerable backing of the Church in Rome, not to mention the might of the ruthless Inquisition—was regarded as the most powerful man in the world. Religiously devout, he had sworn to blanket the world in Catholicism, whatever the cost.

When Elizabeth succeeded to the throne as a Protestant in 1558, nearly half of England's population remained Catholic, but—in one of many characteristically skillful moves—she chose to view her people as her subjects, dogma notwithstanding. She reasoned they loved her before they were either Protestant or Catholic. ("I have no wish to open windows into men's souls,” she explained…basically meaning "think what you like, but act as my Protestant subjects.” Throughout her reign, Elizabeth I proved extremely tolerant to her Catholic subjects and constantly protected them against virulent protests and cries to persecute, many of which arose from the floor of her own Parliament.) The new film sets about to examine the notion of religious tolerance set against fundamentalism—a timely subject that resonates today.

Director Kapur believes that "by delving into history, you wind up telling a contemporary story about ourselves. Why make a film today that is not relevant to today's times? Why make a film that's not relevant to today's individual, political or psychological attitudes? Elizabeth: The Golden Age is about Cate Blanchett, who is interpreting Elizabeth for modern times. It's

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