I just finished watching Elizabeth: The Golden Age. What a load of revisionist poppycock! There's a point where fiction starts being so revisionist it turns from fiction into lying, and this movie is way, way, over the line. So why is this a bad movie?
For starters, it's completely over the top. While you could probably watch it just for the costumes, or Cate Blanchett, you should keep the sound muted, because the soundtrack is the most pompous thing I've heard since The Rock.
But that's not my concern. The real problem is that it's historical revisionism from start to finish. Elizabeth I as a tolerant free-thinker? Being a Catholic was a crime in Elizabethan England. Catholic priests were regularly drawn and quartered. The reason we're never going to find out if Shakespeare was Catholic or not is because if he was, he would have had to keep it a secret. John Dowland left England because he was suspected of possibly maybe being a little bit Catholic.
Spanish people and catholics are consistently portrayed as plotting, wicked men who make war on England just for the heck of it. King Philip of Spain is a neurotic psychopath, while Elizabeth holds bold speeches defending freedom of speech and thought. Let me make the symbolism clear: Catholicism = Islam. Elizabeth stands for good, Anglo-Saxon virtues and the swarthy religious fanatics are making an armada. Goodness knows the English weren't fanatics at all.
There's this scene where Liz in full plate armour, astride a horse and her red hair (which, btw, was very short just a few scenes ago) flowing holds a passionate speech to her army, which is more than a little reminiscent of the speech scene in Braveheart, and popular images of Joan of Arc. I thought to myself "that can't possibly be true" and sure enough, the historical record indicates that she wore a white dress and was on foot. Oh, and rode side-saddle when she did ride.
(Funny, I had only just written a short text about The White Album (which has a song containing the title of this post) when Sir Walter Raleigh comes strolling into my TV set.)