Roz Kaveney (rozk) wrote,
Roz Kaveney

I meant to do this at the weekend

My friend katbone who has not known me well all that long, but knows me well, apparently, spotted me counting on my fingers the mistakes in the first few minutes of Elizabeth - The Golden Age. The opening titles announced that Spain was the most powerful empire on Earth - richest, possibly; largest geographically, possibly; strongest militarily, almost certainly not: the Ottomans, the Moguls and the Chinese all have to be counted. It claimed that England stood alone - well, not really, because the French were playing a double game in favour of the balance of power and the Dutch were doing most of the actual fighting most of the time. Even the Pope had mixed feelings about both Elizabeth and the Armada - which is why the Vatican sang a Te Deum for Spain's defeat. On the other hand, I like the idea that Spain set up crap plots to force Elizabeth to execute Mary Stuart.

And I relished some of the film's insane nonsense, all the more so because it has been denounced by the Vatican's tame historians here. Spain was trying to conquer England and force Catholicism back on the populace - that was its war aim and it is a good thing that they lost. Shots of crucifixes, incense burners and inquisitors sinking into the depth of the sea is what a good Protestant epic ought to be about, seems to me. And why not? Hapsburg Spain was all about ruling the world with an iron fist and they lost. Tough.

The fact that they managed in the process to draw a line past which the Ottomans did not manage to expand is about the best thing you can say for them - there is little to choose between world empires. It amuses me that the Vatican is still miffed.

It worries me, though, that my tells are that obvious.

The other thing about EtGA is its unabashed slashiness - a movie in which Elizabeth is bathed and has her head stroked by Bess Throckmorton, then forces her to dance with Raleigh the volta, the dance of her youth with Leicester, then gets all freaked when Bess and Raleigh actually do become lovers. She slaps Bess repeatedly shouting 'My bitches wear my collars' - which is one of the great clunky lines of all times but is also amazingly hot in a BDSM way.

Cate Blanchett is miraculous in the way she manages to sell all the loony love stuff and also plays the Tilbury and Council Chamber scenes as if she were defeating the Armada by magic; Kapur is quite quite mad - Elizabeth more or less summons the winds as if she were Galadriel with the One Ring.

Shame they didn't give her Elizabeth's ACTUAL SPEECH though, because what she says to the troops is nowhere near as good as the whole 'I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.'

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

If anyone is interested in all this, they really need to read Garrett Mattingley's The Defeat of the Spanish Armada which is one of the best examples I know of history written like it was a novel.
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