Intermission: Elizabeth: Full Throttle
The CGI Spanish Armada sinks into the CGI water. That's how this thing ends, or nearly so. Some cuts imply that Queen Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett), unwigged, and therefore more thoughtful and somehow True, observes her country's victory from some sort of castle window, but not long before she seemed to be leading a CGI army on the southern coast of England, and in between she's found a lot of time to stand on her big map of Europe with her palms outstretched and all the royal fans turned on High. So I'm not sure where she actually is. I suspect that Elizabeth does not watch the Armada sink from her castle window, but that she telepathically absorbs their defeat as an Inner Message, in the same way Mariah banged out the words to "Reflections (Care Enough)" at her piano while her boyfriend, across town, wrote the music for the same song in Glitter. Elizabeth is Mariah, and Clive Owen, against every Newtonian law of Stardom Conservation, is somehow Max Beesley, swinging along riggings and diving into the green sea. A horse swims over top of him. Chagall, y'all. The movie has a bit more twisting and turning to do before it actually ends, with Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, coddling a baby in her arms and fading into the glaring whiteness of failed irony. Then she stands on her map again and turns all the fans back on, but this time she fades to black. Some captions prove informative. I didn't write them down, because bringing along a notebook to Elizabeth: The Golden Age would be like bringing along a tape recorder to interview your dog. So, I can only paraphrase: The defeat of the Spanish Armada went down as one of the worst humiliations in Spanish naval history. Seems awfully qualified to me, in the manner of "the fall of the Bastille was one of the largest-scale destructions of a Parisian prison in French history." But there you go. Also: England, under Elizabeth's reign, entered a time of peace and prosperity. Which sounds an awful lot like...a golden age. Tristram Shandy-like, the movie ends just when it's caught itself up to its promised beginning, so perhaps, like Sterne's novel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age is a crafty metaphysical and rhetorical masterpiece, and its surface appearance as a jewel-toned, bovine, blender-edited, overdressed nightmare of a Wigstock festival is but a clever disguise.
But no, I'm pretty sure that the movie is ridiculous, and that among its endless list of wrong choices and confused agendas, it simply adopted the wrong title. There's a lot of that going around, but let's be generous. Let's close our eyes, think of England, and even though we wouldn't know the first thing about directing or producing or picking the proper lens, and even though we weren't around to feed the composer his Ritalin or to remind Abbie Cornish that she isn't playing a stoner in this movie, let's help where we can and endow Elizabeth: The Golden Age with the title it deserves. I have several suggestions. Click here to read the rest...
Photo © 2007 Universal Pictures/Working Title Films