I started watching this film in hope that it would be entertaining for a cold February night. The first film was a good watch, despite some of the historical question marks and overplaying of Dudley (not the first, and probably not the last time that this would be done!) As an historian, I have to say that I was very disappointed. Could they not afford Joseph Fiennes for a second movie? Was there any particular reason that one of the key members of court (not to mention Essex, another incredibly influential member of the Elizabethian court)was not included? The Raleigh/Elizabeth 'love story' was really a load of nonsense - is there ever going to be a film about Elizabeth where she is NOT fawning over all the men of her court? Yes, she was human and probably struggled with her feelings, but I suspect that there was more to her life than whether or not she was ever going to marry.
As for Mary Queen of Scots, my main upset with this is her accent. She is Queen of Scots, but she was raised in the FRENCH court, and was (briefly) Queen of France before the death of her sickly husband.
The film was rather complicated, as those with little or no knowledge of 16th Century British history could easily be lost - many of the characters aren't actually introduced properly, and it took my family some time to work out what exactly was going on. It would have been a much, MUCH better film if they had cut out all of the dramatic, uplifting music and spent more time on the script. As for clichés - my entire family gave up by the point of the horses leaping off the ship (Guinness, anyone?) If you are passionate about history, I would strongly recommend that you AVOID this film, as it will end up frustrating you (and those around you, if you are anything like me - I just have to comment when I'm watching a bad film...) It is great for Hollywood, but a bit oversimplified for me!
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