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Elizabeth I: which actress do you prefer?


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Thanks for reviving the topic, bart. As mentioned earlier in this long thread, by me in fact :lol:, Swinton has been cast as Elizabeth for Derek Jarman in "Jubilee" (although Gloriana found herself in unusual circumstances).

I'm afraid my movie going these days is limited to planes, but while I always admired Glenda Jackson's portrayal when it aired on PBS, I loved the last scenes of "Elizabeth" after Cate Blanchett banishes Essex after finding out he is married and transforms herself into the portrait.

Yes, it's not historically accurate but there's real emotional truth to it - it's very effective.

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There was a new feature film entry in the Elizabeth I sweepstakes with the recent Mary Queen of Scots movie with Saiorse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Worse than I anticipated. (We’re going from Katharine Hepburn and Florence Eldridge and Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson to Ronan and Robbie, which suggests that Hollywood evolution is headed in the wrong direction.)  It followed the line of older movies on the same subject – Mary is the Real Woman while Elizabeth is a frustrated old spinster. At least in other versions Elizabeth was given some credit as an astute politician; Margot Robbie’s Elizabeth is putty in the hands of her menfolk. She is not aided by bad makeup decisions; Ronan’s makeup is clean and contemporary looking, while Robbie is made up to look like Ronald McDonald in Elizabethan drag with over-the-top smallpox scars.

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25 minutes ago, dirac said:

Elizabeth is putty in the hands of her menfolk

History tells us it was Mary who relied on a series of dissipated/inept men.  The whole point of Elizabeth's spinster status was to make her own decisions and not be reliant on any man.  She chose her male advisors and they were always the most astute.

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True, Mashinka, although she did misjudge Essex, I have to say.

I see I was rather hard on the 1971 "Mary Queen of Scots" earlier in this thread --too hard, in retrospect. It looks like a masterpiece compared with the new one.

There have also been a number of cable shows in the past few years that appear to be based on history, with titles like The White Queen and The Red Princess and other royal ladies of various hues, but I haven't seen them.

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16 minutes ago, dirac said:

There have also been a number of cable shows in the past few years that appear to be based on history, with titles like The White Queen and The Red Princess and other royal ladies of various hues, but I haven't seen them.

If they're the ones I think they are, the scores made them unwatchable for me.  The recent Henry VIII series was ridiculous, there was also a dreadful Louis XIV series.  

My favourite viewing right now is Scandinavian crime series, really gritty with superb acting, if you've not seen any I recommend them.

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My favourite viewing right now is Scandinavian crime series, really gritty with superb acting, if you've not seen any I recommend them.

By coincidence a channel in my area has changed programming and has started showing these, and a friend of mine is addicted. I mean to start tuning in.

(Was the Louis XIV show "Versailles"? I checked out after the first episode.  Ugh.)

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Thanks for jogging my memory, yes, it was Versailles, I couldn't watch more than a few minutes.  A brilliant film could have been made about Louis, instead we got that rubbish.  I'm not usually a fan of crime, but the Scandinavian productions have converted me.

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On 1/17/2020 at 10:01 AM, dirac said:

(We’re going from Katharine Hepburn and Florence Eldridge and Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson to Ronan and Robbie, which suggests that Hollywood evolution is headed in the wrong direction.)

Well, It's hard for me to imagine anyone currently working who could attain the stature of John Ford, but I think it's well within Saoirse Ronan's potential to reach the stratosphere of Hepburn and Redgrave.  I'm not entirely sure of Margot Robbie yet, but she makes interesting career choices as well.  I think Ronan is definitely one of the most talented and interesting young, white, English-speaking actresses working in film today, though.

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On 1/17/2020 at 10:33 AM, Mashinka said:

History tells us it was Mary who relied on a series of dissipated/inept men.  The whole point of Elizabeth's spinster status was to make her own decisions and not be reliant on any man.  She chose her male advisors and they were always the most astute.

Elizabeth was also exceptionally savvy in using her unmarried status as a tease (Was she finally going to marry this time?  Who was it going to be?).  She would play one royal/nobleman against another constantly with hints about possible intentions about who she would finally marry while maintaining her independence all the while.

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16 hours ago, sidwich said:

Well, It's hard for me to imagine anyone currently working who could attain the stature of John Ford, but I think it's well within Saoirse Ronan's potential to reach the stratosphere of Hepburn and Redgrave.  I'm not entirely sure of Margot Robbie yet, but she makes interesting career choices as well.  I think Ronan is definitely one of the most talented and interesting young, white, English-speaking actresses working in film today, though.

Hi, sidwich, always nice to hear from you. Well, Mary of Scotland is one of Ford’s lesser efforts and I was overgenerous to Eldridge, an actor of distinction who wasn’t at her best - her Elizabeth is really a cardboard villainess. I also understand the fuss about Ronan even if I still found her most convincing as a semi-robotized child assassin. Robbie is very good, too. Liked her a lot in the unhappily titled Bombshell. In the Mary Queen of Scots they both looked overmatched, but they were certainly not helped by the script.

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16 hours ago, sidwich said:

Elizabeth was also exceptionally savvy in using her unmarried status as a tease (Was she finally going to marry this time?  Who was it going to be?).  She would play one royal/nobleman against another constantly with hints about possible intentions about who she would finally marry while maintaining her independence all the while.

Elizabeth might have married if it had been possible for a male consort to remain just that. It was a huge gamble for her not to marry and try to provide the kingdom with an heir, but from her point of view marriage was just as big a gamble.

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The fate of Elizabeth's mother and her stepmother's death after childbirth are sometimes cited as reasons for her unmarried state.  Considering marriage with princes of several nationalities was a clever political ploy, though she seemed to be genuinely fond  of the French contender The Duke of Alençon, her 'little frog'.  A French alliance against Spain would have been extremely advantageous at the time but perhaps even Elizabeth would have baulked at having the formidable Catherine de Medici as a mother in law. 

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