Posts Tagged ‘“Elizabeth”’

Hollywood Hystery

Posted in General on April 15th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 7 Comments

Hollywood’s version of history is usually a juvenile simplification.  As long as the battle scenes are exciting, the facts can have a higher mortality rate than the featured infantry.  For instance, an attempted epic called “The Last Legion” found it convenient to depict the Byzantine Empire as being Indian.  Well, Byzantium was the eastern half of the Roman Empire but it wasn’t quite that East.  At least, “The Last Legion” was obviously silly and so no one would mistake it for real history.  While watching it, my blood pressure was never at risk.

However, “Elizabeth”–the 1998 Cate Blanchett travesty–could have killed me.   This film infuriated me.  It was more than the usual simplifications and inaccuracies; “Elizabeth” was fabricating most of the story.  The script got her name and hair color right–and that was about it.  You saw battles and executions that never happened.  Some historical figures were mutated beyond  recognition.  The real Francis Walsingham was a grim puritanical bureaucrat who headed the Elizabethan intelligence service; but for his competence, he could have been the 16th century Dick Cheney.  In “Elizabeth”, however, Walsingham has become an omnisexual James Bond; among his feats, he seduces and assassinates the Queen of Scotland.   I wonder how many film viewers believe that actually happened.

You can imagine my dread of the sequel.  Would Jennifer Lopez play Philip II?  I tried to avoid “Elizabeth: the Golden Age” but in my remote control meanderings I kept colliding with it.  The pageantry lured me, and I decided to risk my health and self-respect by watching the film.  I stopped counting the historical errors and fabrications after the first seven minutes.  (There already were five.)  I just sat watching in resignation and confusion.  Somehow Walter Raleigh and Francis Drake became the same person.  And the director and the scriptwriter eventually abandoned all pretense at coherence.  They could not quite explain how Raleigh/Drake managed with a single ship to sink the Spanish Armada.  In fact, the inanity became contagious.  I considered what absurdities they somehow had omitted from the film. 

Here are a few of my fabrications–which are available for the next sequel: 

Elizabeth visits Stratford-on-Avon Junior High and encourages one of the students to improve his penmanship.

Leonardo da Vinci offers to build Elizabeth an air force, allowing Britain to colonize America.

To confuse the Spanish Armada, Francis Bacon (painter or writer, what’s the difference) camouflages the White Cliffs of Dover to look like Sicilian olive groves.  Ferdinand Magellan, thinking he made the wrong turn at Cadiz, sails the Armada west to the Philippines where the fleet  is devoured by giant termites.  (Only Miguel Cervantes survives to tell the tale.)

I only hope that I am kidding…but I am willing to take the check.