Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Elizabeth: The Golden Age Movie Poster Image
Talky, arty, intense sequel may not interest kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2007
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Royals, diplomats, explorers, and servants all are ambitious, competitive, and treacherous, then make speeches about national pride. Constant politics, plotting, and betrayal.


A man has his tongue cut out (bloody mouth visible) and is beaten (brief image, mostly assailants' kicks shown, rather than his body). Torture scene features screaming and bloody bodies, as well as heads in cages (with screws designed to poke holes in the skulls). One brother attempts to assassinate the other with a knife; the attacker ends up in prison, where he appears bloodied and collapsed (the abuse isn't shown, just the effects). Assassination attempt on the queen ends with gun fired, but no hit. Execution of a traitor shows hanging of bloody body (full body shot), then cut to dangling feet. Execution of Mary Stuart shows her head on the chopping block, the executioner with ax raised, and then cuts away, to the loud sound of the blade hitting. Elizabeth slaps Bess hard. British Navy vs. Spanish Armada battle includes canons, gunfire, flaming bodies, screaming victims, and a horse leaping from a ship in slow motion into the sea. A ship loaded with explosives serves as vehicular bomb.


Several scenes show cleavage, sometimes heaving, mostly encased in period bodices. Repeated references to Elizabeth's virginity (she makes one, in a joke about the name "Virginia"). Spanish ambassador accuses Elizabeth of taking "pirates to your royal bed." Complex flirtations among Elizabeth, Bess, and Raleigh feature speedy dialogue and subtle glances. Kiss between Raleigh and Bess; subsequent sex scene features nude torsos in profile, shadows, and dissolves.


Mild language includes occasional uses of "hell" and "bastard." One muffled word could be 'f--k,' but it's very difficult to hear.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking at gatherings; Raleigh brings tobacco from the New World, saying, "You breathe its smoke: Very stimulating!" Elizabeth and Bess try smoking and cough.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this talky, artistic sequel to 1998's Elizabeth probably won't be a big draw for many kids, even older teens. That said, it liberally interprets the PG-13 rating (the original was R), since it contains some graphic, bloody violence. Images include torture, a tongue being cut out, heads in cages, beatings, shooting, hanging, beheading, and an epic sea battle. Flirtations are more intellectual than physical, though there's plenty of visible cleavage in the colorful costumes. One sex scene is glamorous and shadowy, with a brief image of a passionate embrace. Raleigh brings "natives" from the New World in face paint; though others look on them as novelties, the queen orders them treated like royal visitors. Characters drink occasionally, and the queen smokes tobacco once.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byerincdunn April 9, 2008


The movie was breathtaking, heartbreaking and unforgetable. I am so glad I took the day off of work to see the first showing. Thank you for making such an art... Continue reading
Adult Written bysadiesalt March 30, 2020

More for those interested in History

I do not think this is a family movie it is definitely one for adults who are interested in pasty of Queen Elizabeth’s life. It is pretty violent and contains n... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byCopperBeech September 11, 2019

Incredible and thought provoking

I can't believe common sense media says "May not interest kids" and "Probably won't be a big draw for many kids, and even older teens.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybonesxprt13 April 9, 2008

consummate and flawless history tale with a storybook ending.

Take this movie and watch it. Some iffy parts when the maid to the queen Elopes. Some iffy messages when the council people are killing because of the religio... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Shekhar Kapur's sequel to his own Elizabeth, King Philip II of Spain (Jordi Molla) is determined to bring war against England, all while challenging Elizabeth's rule and non-Catholicism, pushing her to rule ruthlessly. By contrast, Elizabeth is keenly social and, most often, breathtakingly beautiful, and the sheer number of ladies she needs to prepare her for public consumption is astounding. It's not a surprise when Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen) returns from a jaunt to the New World and finds himself attracted to both Elizabeth and her favorite attendant, Bess (Abbie Cornish). But Raleigh isn't just a romantic lead. He also embodies England's drive to explore and to conquer. When Elizabeth is targeted for assassination, a plot ostensibly engineered by her very angry -- and imprisoned -- cousin Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton), she relies on Sir Francis Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush, who practices grisly secret torture to defend his queen.

Is it any good?

Stiff and strange, the movie is full of bravura speeches and dazzling visuals. A gun firing at Elizabeth blasts the screen away into bright white light, and she enacts her plan for the Armada on a floor map with giant gold model ships, spectacularly shot from overhead like a living chessboard. But the beauty is, at last, too ravishing. The movie feels more superficial than significant, like it's stuck behind a pane of glass.

"I pretend there's a pane of glass between me and them. They can't touch me. You should try it." When Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) offers this bit of advice to a nervous royal suitor, he smiles obligingly but admits he just can't manage the pretense, not being as strong, independent-minded, or self-absorbed as she is. It's close to a perfect moment in ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE, for it shows concisely the Virgin Queen's authority and loneliness, her genius and rage.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the movie depicts its historical characters. Is it more or less realistic than other dramas about the Elizabethan era? How can you tell? How could you find out more about the period? Families can also discuss Elizabeth's choices. How does she deal with being single and powerful? What sacrifices does she make to be queen? How does the film compare her ambitions and cruelties with those of her cousin Mary?

Movie details

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