Saturday, March 8, 2008

Elizabeth, The Golden Age

On a lighter note, I see that Candy is venturing into movie reviews:

As for movies... We rented Elizabeth - The Golden Age the other day. If you haven't see it, - watch it! It's not too far off from the true history. The movie wonderfully protrays how God protected England from the Jesuits and the Spanish Armada/Roman Catholic Inquisition - a true miracle occured - in God's protecting His true Christian people. The movie was beautiful. :-)

I think "not too far off from the true history" might be a bit far off from the truth. Catholic film critic Steven Greydanus gives a much better review of the movie.

If someone says something like “God has spoken to me,” it’s a sure bet that (a) the speaker is a Catholic, and (b) whatever God had to say spells trouble for non-Catholics. Ditto any reference to “true believers,” “God’s work,” “legions of Christ,” you name it. In this world, God-talk is troubling Catholic behavior; Protestants don’t talk to, or about, God. Their religion is little more than a slogan for conscience, religious freedom, and of course heroic resistance to Catholic oppression.

“I will not punish my people for their beliefs — only for their deeds,” says Elizabeth, conveniently forgetting that in the last movie she rammed the Act of Uniformity through Parliament, outlawing the Catholic Mass and imposing compulsory attendance at Anglican services. In this version of history, the hosts of Catholics martyred under Elizabeth are all traitors and conspirators. “Every Catholic in England is a potential assassin,” Elizabeth’s advisors helpfully remind her in an early scene. Well, then, every Catholic in England is a potential political prisoner too.

The American Inquisition has a very amusing "myth-busting" biography of Queen Elizabeth available.

I think the three Tudors I have covered in this mini-series can be classified in the following manner:

King Henry VIII: a Bad Man and a Bad King.
Queen Mary I: a Good Woman and a Bad Queen.
Queen Elizabeth I: a Bad Woman and a Good Queen.

When people ask me why I have such admiration for a woman who executed Catholics, my response is generally that, while she was bad for the Church, she was, from an "objective" standpoint, a good ruler. It is undeniable that the country she inherited was shaky, bankrupt and in very bad shape, but the country she left behind was wealthy, powerful and unified.

The "myth-busting" of Elizabeth lies not so much in debunking myths about the things that she did, but in bringing to light the oft-neglected parts of her reign that are, shall we say, somewhat less than politically correct.

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Anonymous said...

It is also true that Elizabeth functioned more out of survival, for herself and her country, than for any religion. She acted against Catholics mostly because of their threat to her and her reign, not because they believed something she didn't. It was about loyalty. Her life was constantly threatened and it just so happened that it was constantly threatened by Jesuits & Catholics, especially once she was excommunicated. The plots against here were as numerous as wigs she owned. She killed those who threatened her; she didn't kill those who were Catholic just because they were Catholic.

Protestants have turned Elizabeth into some sort of Protestant hero when, if any real study of the woman and her life were done they would see that what she did was less out of religious conviction than out of survival.

But, people see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe. They will alter history to fit their agenda. That is nothing new.

Elena said...

I love Kate Blanchett. I enjoyed the first movie but haven't seen this one yet. Looking forward to it though after this review.

Milehimama said...

Candy said...
The movie wonderfully protrays how God protected England from the Jesuits and the Spanish Armada/Roman Catholic Inquisition - a true miracle occured - in God's protecting His true Christian people

And yet, Candy is not an Anglican and despises liturgical churches, even though she claims they are His true Christian people? Does she realize that Elizabeth would have had her carted off right along with the Catholics for "heresy"?

Anonymous said...

Both Elizabeth and The Golden Age incorporate a lot of legend, myth and speculation. Although they're both great movies and I loved them both, no one can mistake the fact that what they do more than anything is speculate. "What if...". They explore some of the common assumptions and speculation about Elizabeth and her personal life, such as her romantic involvement with Dudley and Drake.

They're good movies, like I said. But, they are not exactly factual. Both take a lot of liberties. They both take elements of her life from all different times and incorporate them into the movie. For example, a conversation held upon her deathbed was presented as occurring in the first few years of her reign in the first Elizabeth movie. (..."must is not a word one uses for princes..."). What the movies are trying to do is portray her character, and why she was who she was and how she became that way.

Anyway, if you've seen the 1998 Elizabeth, you really do have to see The Golden Age.

kozimom said...

It's so easy to think that a movie is really giving us true history. But it's important to remember that it is just a movie - it was made to be a movie, not a history lesson. Yes, often we can learn about a time period, especially from the "look" of the movie and its costumes, but really the story that we are getting is just what the movie makers are giving us.

After watching Elizabeth, I was just very glad that I don't live in a time when Protestants or Catholics are executed for their beliefs! It made me wonder if there were any "true" Christians then at all!

Anonymous said...

Since I can't edit my post I'll correct my error. I said "Dudley and Drake" when it is actually "Dudley and Raleigh".

I'm not up on my explorers.

Kelly said...

kozimom, I totally agree with your comment!

I get annoyed that everyone knows about "Bloody Mary" but the average person has no idea that Elizabeth had Catholics executed as well.

I also see that a lot in apologetics, where protestants seem to feel that only Catholics ever killed people that they disagreed with. The Crusades ended with the Reformation, as far as they are concerned.

Really, it was a different culture back then. I have no idea where we got the idea that killing people would cleanse them of their heresy, but I think it is sad that it lasted as long as it did.

I visited the death camp at Dachau once, and they had "Nie wieder" (never again) written in all of the major languages there. I look back at our bloody history and think that. And then look at our present day situation, and realize that we still have a long way to go.