By Shannon Lucas,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Mature, visceral depiction of a turbulent reign.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
This is a complex story about actual historical figures. Everyone is portrayed with realistic and complex personalities including flaws such as duplicity, a desire for vengeance, and even murderous tendencies. There is no clear hero or heroine.
Violence & Scariness
Graphic depictions of violent acts and imagery.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several scenes of nudity and sexual interludes.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Alcoholic consumption occurs in historical context.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film has extremely gruesome scenes, and parts may be difficult to watch even for adults. Extremely graphic depictions of people being burned alive, being stabbed, beheaded, heads on sticks, and gruesome post-war images of people with missing limbs, bloody, and dying are featured in the film. The film also includes several scenes featuring nudity and sexual interludes.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Based on 4 parent reviews
British film with weaknesses
Report this review
Brilliant film, but for older teens and adults only
Report this review
What's the Story?
ELIZABETH depicts the transformation of a young, naïve, in-love princess into one of history's greatest, and at times most ruthless, rulers. Set in a period of great religious and political turmoil, the movie opens with a gruesome scene of three people being burned alive for their Protestant religious views. The Protestant Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett) takes the throne after the death of her Roman Catholic sister, Queen Mary (Kathy Burke). Her religious beliefs, along with a desire to solidify alliances with other nations, lead to much intrigue in her court, including attempts on her life. Her one true love, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (Joseph Fiennes), interferes with her court advisers who wish to have her marry one of England's allies. Only after the ruthless decision to eliminate all of her enemies does Queen Elizabeth ensure total control.
Is It Any Good?
This well-done dramatic biography accurately depicts the great ruler's life, but it's not for the faint of heart. Cate Blanchett's superb acting skills demonstrate the emotional evolution that Elizabeth might have undertaken as she ascended to the throne in such turbulent times. Director Shekhar Kapur develops the tension of the times in a way that never lets the audience completely relax. From the first scene of martyrs being burned through the war with the Scots and all of the murders of her enemies, one gets the sense that these were times in which few could be trusted. Despite its qualities as a fine film, Elizabeth is too mature and violent for younger viewers.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the concept of an enlightened ruler and what methods are acceptably employed to remain in control of a nation for the good of the people. How did Elizabeth's actions "for the good of the people" affect ordinary citizens? What do you think constitutes a good reason to go to war? The biographical nature of the film may also spark conversations about this historically significant period, as Elizabeth was the last of the Tudor line monarchy. Families may want to discuss the capable nature of women in power as evidenced by Elizabeth's reign, which was considered the Golden Age in England. Finally, families could talk about the power that religion has had over people and nations occasionally even driving them to war.
- In theaters: January 1, 1998
- On DVD or streaming: November 4, 2002
- Cast: Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes
- Director: Shekhar Kapur
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 124 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and sexuality
- Last updated: June 1, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate