Saturday, September 10, 2016

Historical blender films

I'm only 16 years late to the party, but last night I watched the Cate Blanchett 1998 movie Elizabeth for the first time, in pleasing High Definition on SBS.

I'm always of two minds about these movies, given that you can always safely assume that to one degree or another they will not be historically accurate.   Does that really matter, particularly if it inspires viewers checking up on the true story to learn some real history; or is it a puzzling insult to veracity that so many screenwriters can't make an entertaining movie without grossly misleading, or lying to, the audience?

I guess I am more forgiving if a movie opens with "inspired by true events" as a warning to the audience; but how often does that happen?  (And, incidentally, I missed the first couple of minutes of Elizabeth, so I don't know if any such disclaimer last night.)

Anyhow, I remember at the time the movie came out there were many articles talking about its inaccuracies, and having refreshed my memory about them now, the movie really is like an experiment to see what happens if you put into a blender a list of historical true characters, a separate list of their ages,  some notes about events over an entire life (even if you're only supposed to be covering the first half), some soft erotica, and a few kilometers of fine fabrics.  Hit the button and see how it all tumbles out.

At the end of the day, we can all agree it looked fantasitc, and with her features and good acting, it was the role Blanchett was born to play.   But even on its own terms as a movie story, it was a bit of a mess; and when you read up on the true facts, I think the historical liberties were just too extreme to forgive.   (I , mean, seriously:  the young transvestite French suitor never even made it to England, let alone being interrupted mid-orgy by the queen.  The major dramatic revelation - that her lover was already married - is also pure invention, given that the real Liz was at his wedding.)

A few links about the inaccuracies, for anyone who cares:   here, here, here and here.

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