Elizabeth Movie Poster Image




Mature, visceral depiction of a turbulent reign.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1998
  • Running Time: 124 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


Graphic depictions of violent acts and imagery.


Several scenes of nudity and sexual interludes.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Alcoholic consumption occurs in historical context.

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.

Families can talk 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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1998
DVD/Streaming release date:November 4, 2002
Cast:Cate Blanchett, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes
Director:Shekhar Kapur
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:124 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence and sexuality

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Teen, 14 years old Written bydima April 9, 2008
Parent of a 12 year old Written bycrankylibrarian January 3, 2014

Brilliant film, but for older teens and adults only

I tried showing this to my 12 year old: MISTAKE!! From the burning at the stake of 3 heretics in the opening scene, through the numerous beheadings and dismemberments soon to follow, this was NOT a movie for anyone without an extremely strong stomach. Brilliantly acted and with a gripping story, and a remarkable, real life heroine. it's worth waiting for, but not for youngsters.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 16 years old Written bydark rose April 9, 2008

one of the best movies

i always ff the sexual content and the violence is not an issue for me. no swearing :-D i love this movie!!