Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Elizabeth R

This is less a post about partisan politics as an observation on the nature of politics, in the form of a Review of the first episodes of the 1971 mini-series 'Elizabeth R' starring Glenda Jackson.

First let me say up front that Glenda Jackson is by far the sexiest Elizabeth I've ever seen portrayed. She gives Elizabeth a feirce intellegence and independent spirit that is very compelling. I should also note that Jackson does this without making Elizabeth a jarring anachronism of modern attitudes. Her Elizabeth is very much a woman of her time.

What struck me about the first episode is how the writers avoided creating simple black an white situation where the heroic Elizabeth combats her evil sister 'Bloody' Mary Tudor. Refreshingly, Mary is portrayed without prejudice, even with sympathy as a woman sincere in her desire to bring England back to Catholocism, but who lacks the diplomatic and political skills to win over the people or the most powerful men of the realm who could help her affect the changes she wants.

Elizabeth in contrast is persuasive, careful, and never burns any bridges with anyone who might be useful to her in the future, even the jailers who throw her in the tower. Even when her position is tenuous she carefully builds alliances, and never says anythign that could inciminate her.

This sets up a clear deliniation between the idealistic, but innefectual Mary, verses the more pragmatic Elizabeth.

I'm keen to continue with the series and see how Elizbeth deals with Mary, Queen of Scots.

No comments: