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Elizabeth I

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,776 customer reviews

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(Aug 22, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons star in Elizabeth I, a two-part HBO Films miniseries event that explores the intersection of the private and public life of Elizabeth I (Mirren) in the latter half of her reign, offering a personal look at her allies, her enemies and her suitors as she struggles to survive in a male-dominated world. Part 1 explores Elizabeth's tempestuous relationship with the Earl of Leicester (Irons) as it survives a French suitor, war, treason, and illness. Part 2 follows Elizabeth through her later years, during which she had an equally passionate affair with the young, ambitious Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy), who had been raised, ironically, by his stepfather Leicester. In the end, Elizabeth I sheds light on one of the most popular members of the monarchy who held absolute power over everything... except her heart.

Helen Mirren's Elizabeth I could almost be cousin to her Jane Tennison. Like the dedicated detective chief inspector, Queen Bess is not without a heart, but work comes first and any romantic entanglements are doomed to fail. Fortunately, she has her friendships. Directed by Tom Hooper (Prime Suspect 6), this two-part HBO/Channel 4 tele-film begins in 1579. The Virgin Queen has been on the throne for 20 years, but has not married. Her closest relationship is with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons), whom the council will not allow her to wed. Because Robert wishes to produce an heir, he marries another, garnering Elizabeth's disfavor (and nor is he all that thrilled about her dalliance with Henry, the Duke of Anjou). In time, he'll return to her good graces. As she explains, "Friendship outlasts love and is stronger than love." Then, as his health begins to fails, she'll turn to his stepson, the dashing, if duplicitous Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex (Hugh Dancy, the Hooper-directed Daniel Deronda). Meanwhile, Mary, Queen of Scots (Barbara Flynn) plots against her Protestant cousin. Even after Mary makes her exit, plenty of other powerful Catholics will stop at nothing to seize the crown. Marked as much by triumph as tragedy, the role of Elizabeth I has been catnip for many illustrious actresses, notably Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson, and Cate Blanchett. Mirren's multi-faceted portrayal of the queen's golden years is a worthy addition to that canon and Irons is a particularly formidable foil. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Special Features

  • "The Making of Elizabeth I" featurette
  • "Uncovering the Real Elizabeth" featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Helen Mirren, Hugh Dancy, Toby Jones, Patrick Malahide, Ian McDiarmid
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Hbo Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 22, 2006
  • Run Time: 211 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,776 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000FO0AHO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,658 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Elizabeth I" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rebecca Huston on January 14, 2007
Format: DVD
One of the things I love about owning a DVD player is that I get to watch movies pretty much as they were intended to be seen: in widescreen format, brilliant colour and sound, and the ability to pause them and have the frame actually stay still. This is especially nice when it's the sort of film I adore -- a costume drama with plenty of details and good looking actors.

Thus is the case with Elizabeth I, a miniseries originally aired on HBO and now available as a two-disc set. Directed by Tom Hooper and written by Nigel Williams, this is a sumptuous treat of a film, full of glittering costumes, period sets and actors who speak and sound right for the time. Instead of showing the usual cradle-to-grave life of Elizabeth I of England, a different tactic is taken, showing her coping with several pivotal times in her reign, and how she dealt with the problem and moved on.

The story opens after Elizabeth has been on the throne of England for about twenty years. She's now in her mid-forties, and her council of advisors are worried that because she has not married and given the country an heir, England stands a good chance of sliding back into civil war. Worse still, there's now the problem of religion -- most of England is Protestant, and most of the rest of Europe is Catholic, two factions that disagree with each other violently, and the only likely heir is the fanatically catholic Mary, Queen of Scots.

Elizabeth (Helen Mirren) isn't about to marry, as we quickly see. She's got exactly what she wants in her relationship with Robert, the Earl of Leicester (Jeremy Irons), down to the point where she has him alone in her private quarters, snuggling and cannoolding with a kiss and tickle or two.
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Format: DVD
Elizabeth Tudor was one of the most psychologically-complex rulers in history. Alternately ignored and embraced by a tyrannical father who had her mother judicially murdered, coming very near to her own youthful death in prison at the hands of her half-sister Queen Mary, and threatened with invasion and assassination attempts throughout her reign, she -- almost uniquely among her contemporaries -- nevertheless steered a course of moderation that brought England through one of the most tumultuous periods in its history and left it poised to begin the reach for empire that was to give England dominance over the 19th century.

Her long reign at a critical juncture of English history presents a panorama so large that it is virtually impossible to capture in anything less than a lengthy miniseries such as PBS undertook in the 1970's with Glenda Jackson's bravura performance . . . a miniseries plagued, unfortuately, by quickly outdated production values. Given a choice imposed by a shorter format of whether to survey Elizabeth equally as both ruler and woman or to bring the camera in closer and to put more focus on one dimension than the other, Tom Hooper wisely chooses the latter.

I am a voracious fan of Elizabeth's watershed reign but, frankly, it has been surveyed enough. So I am pleased that Hooper chose to canvas the more complex side of Elizabeth the woman. And I am ecstatic that he chose the amazing Helen Mirren to do the heavy lifting. Certainly her job is made easier by a superb script with just the right balance between known events and intelligent guesses about the personal drives and private maneuvers behind those events.
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Format: DVD
Helen Mirren gives a fantastic performance as the unmarried English ruler. She seemed to get the queen's personality down. I felt as if I was getting a look back at history. Hard to believe such a high quality production was created for TV. You see what it takes to be a great, if not lonely, monarch. You do have to close your eyes to a few historical liberties, such as the Queen visiting her cousin in her prison cell. The movie does have a slow start, but stick with it, it picks up. Some of the scenes are very violent and graphic, so beware of that. The reason to see this movie is too watch how Ms. Mirren portrays Queen Elizabeth I. Worth the viewing time.
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I love all that is English, when it comes to history, and this is the icing on the cake. Helen Mirren gives an outstanding performance as Queen Elizabeth, the later years. She "feels" the part and "lives" the part. Adding personality to a much misunderstood royal ruler. Even going so far as to play pinch and giggle with the younger Robert. You can see the pained emotions on her face when she is forced to make a choice between love and her throne. But her heart belongs to England so she lives out the remainder of her life as a woman without love or family.
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Format: DVD
I grew up with the magnificent Glenda Jackson version of Elizabeth R, and to me she is the definitive Gloriana. Helen Mirren is superb, but to my mind too flirtatious and indecisive. I don't think the imperious Elizabeth would necessarily have cracked jokes with her courtiers to this extent. Her relationship with the love of her life, the Earl of Leicester, senstively portrayed by Jeremy Irons, is well done, but Leicester did not die in her arms after the defeat of the Armada. Neither did Elizabeth ever meet Mary Queen of Scots (played as a simpering Frenchwoman by Barbara Flynn) or even more bizarrely, her successor, James VI, and Mary was her second, not her first cousin. The Earl of Essex story is more problematic. Though it charts effectively Elizabeth's disillusionment with his ambition and arrogance, it also shows her as being totally besotted by him, which I doubt was the case. Other fine performances are given by Toby Jones as 'Pygmy', Robert Cecil, and by the actors playing Lord Burghley and Francis Walsingham, but for historical accuracy as well as Glenda Jackson's magnetism, Elizabeth R remains definitive.
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