Elizabeth

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I’m no medieval scholar, nor am I really even an enthusiast. However, having drank little from the fountain of knowledge, I figured Elizabeth was very accurate and liked it a good deal. Cate Blanchett does a wonderful job in this movie portraying the image of a queen everyone knows as being forthright and slightly feisty. She certainly endeared my heart a couple times through the movie. I will refrain from mentioning Joseph Fiennes, who is sex on legs.

Now, I did stop over at Elizabethi.org and took a glimpse at the FAQ where some inaccuracies are taken care of. All told, considering the list there, there is little in the movie that is accurate save the names and locations, which is a bit disappointing. I like a true story to be true, but I understand how the movie industry works enough to know that it would not necessarily be very interesting to be that honest. I suppose that’s what documentaries are for.

This does lead to an interesting discussion, however: How important is it that a historical movie be both accurate and entertaining? Is genuine entertainment so valuable that we must sacrifice artifact? Is a non-documentary movie centered around accuracy, but not necessarily entertainment, a better movie? Can the entertainment value of a movie be made level with its historical accuracy?

Personally, I think that any movie that claims to be linked to a time past should make greater strides to indicate when it will not sticking to the history. My suspension of belief goes only so far, and I like to know when I shouldn’t be expecting fact.

This movie certainly had my eyes hooked, nonetheless, and I will probably be trying to pick up a copy of Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

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6 Responses to “Elizabeth”

  1. wordlily Says:

    I agree with you. I haven’t seen this film, but in general, just as I want and expect my historical fiction novels to generally adhere to the time’s history, I’d like that in movies as well. I know that movie makers tend to take quite a few liberties, however.

  2. mrschili Says:

    I recently went around and around with a student about this.

    While I understand your point – that a movie based on a real-life event or figure should at least make an attempt to be at least a little accurate – I have to point out (as I did to my student) that there’s a HUGE difference between “drama” and “documentary.”

    Movie makers, by and large, are NOT historians. They’re not in it for the lessons; they’re in it for the entertainment value. It’s pretty unreasonable, I think, for moviegoers to head in to the theatre thinking they’re going to come out any smarter than they were when they came in.

    If we happen to get a few historically accurate facts from a film, great! I don’t think it’s the filmmakers’ responsibility to teach us anything, though, beyond a few moral or universal lessons. To my estimation, the best that can be said for a movie like Elizabeth (or Braveheart or insert-historical-fiction-film-here) is that it both entertains AND piques our interest enough to get us into a library so we can find out what REALLY happened.

  3. Kizz Says:

    I first saw this movie on the big screen and I fell in love with it. I went with a group of theatre folk and we were all reduced to tears by the ending. Although I remember about two thirds of the way through thinking, “Hmm, this isn’t quite…enough, is it?” The ending brought it all together for me and it remains one of my favorites. My father is an anglophile so I went straight home and called him up to make sure he’d seen it. He had. And boy was he disappointed. A highlight of the ensuing discussion was, “You’ve BEEN in that cathedral, it wasn’t built for hundreds of years after she was dead!” And he was right but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the film. Later another friend was angry that they sort of gloss over time line and don’t point out that MANY years go by between certain events. So I got the movie on DVD and watched the extras. The director talks about getting the script and finding it meandering and having to work out what to do. He decides, very specifically to make this a love story and to do what he has to do to make that work. Since there are no eyewitnesses left and so many conflicting accounts of what shenanigans went on he feels justified in making a choice of which accounts to believe and bringing those to the screen.

    I agree with Chili, while I really like it if they stick to the real truth I don’t think I can hold a feature filmmaker accountable for playing with it. Their job is to make the movie they want to make, to make it engaging and exciting and clear. If they wanted to tell only the truth as it happened regardless of dramatics then they’d make documentaries.

    Next discussion should be about whether there should be limits on what documentarians do with their films to make them engaging to a mass audience.

  4. NHFalcon Says:

    Oh dear lord, don’t even get me started on THIS topic! “Braveheart,” “Gladiator,” “The 13th Warrior,” “300,” “U-571,” etc., etc., etc… oy!

    These are all films I really enjoyed, btw. But the lack of historical realism just blows me away. I mean, just for an example, would it have taken away from the plot or the character development or anything like that if they hadn’t had stirrups in “Gladiator?” Shit, that would’ve actually SAVED the filmmakers some money!

    Or how about “Braveheart?” I mean, as long as they’re going to butcher history as badly as they did in that film,* did they have to kill William Wallace in the end?

    * – how badly was history butchered in “Braveheart?” Well, for starters, the first big battle scene in the movie is supposed to be the Battle of Stirling BRIDGE. I didn’t see a bridge in that battle, did you? Or a river. Or a stream, Or even a fucking puddle, for that matter. Then there’s Robert the Bruce betraying Wallace. That never happened. They never even MET.

    Has Hollywood never heard the saying “truth is stranger than fiction?” Just tell them damn story the way it was. If you can’t, then don’t bother claiming “based on a true story” or classifying your film as “historical fiction.”

    I said don’t get me started… 🙂

  5. saintseester Says:

    I’d rather the filmmakers at least try to stick within the realm of truth especially if it is going to be about a specific person, and thus, named after them. If you found out Schindler did not do the things portrayed in the film, would you be upset?

    It is a fine line, and dramas should have leeway. But, most of the time, I think they could get the basics correct if they tried. Of course, that isn’t going to stop me from being a blathering idiot over the pulled heartstrings in many of these movies. I can still enjoy them pretty darn well.

    Plus, far too many people think that “based on a true story” means “this is fact and you can quote it in your next term paper.”

    That being said, are there any good biopics on the near horizon???

  6. thebutton Says:

    I’m big into Elizabeth. I have gobs of books on her. Some are historical fiction, others are out right history novels with dry facts in them. I do have interest in seeing this movie. Maybe we should get Netflix.

    My hubby, having listend to me ramble about these books borrowed The Tudors from someone and had us watch it. I was annoyed by quite a bit in that series. How about certain people on the show marrying people they didn’t marry at all….grr! I can understand small changes to get the story more appealing but c’mon now.

    I do agree that historical fiction should point out where the fiction is and where the actual history is. It drives me batty having to sort out what I know is fact in my mind from the fiction that seems historical enough.

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