A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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.
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