Director: Shekhar Kapur
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Geoffery Rush, Christopher Eccleston , Joseph Fiennes , Richard Attenborough , Fanny Ardant, Kathy Burke , Eric Cantona, James Frain, Vincent Cassel, Daniel Craig , John Geilgud , Angus Deayton , Edward Hardwicke, Terence Rigby.
Northern England: Shot all around the UK (including York Minster), Haddon Hall in Derbyshire and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland
Shekhar Kapur's 1998 film 'Elizabeth' loosely follows the story of the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I . The film tells of her journey from a warm hearted and romantic young girl, to the ruthless Queen that we recognise from the history books. The point is made clear by the film that this is a journey that is necessary for her survival as the female ruler of a male dominated society.
Elizabeth was crowned Queen in 1559 after Mary I dying of a cancerous tumour. This is despite her having been previously jailed for allegedly conspiring to murder Mary. In the early days of her reign she ignores the suitors who are lining up for her (including the future King Henry III of France) and instead conducts a secret affair with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
Elizabeth fights off many threats to her throne, including the catholic Duke of Norfolk and Mary Guise, the effective ruler of Scotland who is allied with France. Eventually, she decides that in order to remain strong she must avoid relationships, as they potentially put men in a position of power over her, thus threatening her position as Queen. She becomes more ruthless and assertive at this time, as she moulds into the Queen Elizabeth that history remembers.
Naturally, filming a historical epic such as this gave wonderful opportunities to explore the richness of England's heritage in terms of the locations used. For example, the young Princess Elizabeth is arrested at Alnwick Castle, in Alnwick Northumberland. This magnificent castle and stately home is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland, and was originally built immediately following the Norman Conquest. Other locations in Northumberland used are Aydon Castle, a fortified Manor House in Aydon near Corbridge in Northumberland, and Bamburgh Castle. Bamburgh Castle is an imposing structure built on a basalt outcrop by the beach at Bamburgh. Rebuilt by the Normans, the original castle was built by the Britons and had been the capital of the Kingdom of Bryneich.
The river pageant in the film takes place at Raby Castle near Staindrop near County Durham. Raby Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in Britain. It comprises splendid 18th and 19th century interiors encased within a largely unspoilt medieval exterior.
Other locations in the film include: Leeds Castle , Durham Cathedral and York Minster. All of these are well worth a visit in their own right. However, no film pilgrimage based on Queen Elizabeth I would be complete without a visit to the Tower of London itself!
A Picture of Britain