Elizabeth is a popular thirteen year old who can't wait for the day the Queen of England visits her quaint New Zealand hometown. Her excitement becomes almost too much to bear upon learning...
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Elizabeth is a popular thirteen year old who can't wait for the day the Queen of England visits her quaint New Zealand hometown. Her excitement becomes almost too much to bear upon learning that she might get to meet the Queen face to face! But as the rest of the town busies itself in eager anticipation of the big day, Elizabeth finds herself drawn to the elderly and mysterious outcast Hira. Written by
"Her Majesty" an impressive new film shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival.
For some time, there has been significant unrest with our entertainment media. Large segments of the public have been decrying Hollywood film productions. The choice of violent content, dysfunctional behavior, excessive sexual emphasis, and a debased human condition as subject material have championed sensationalism over the artistic potential of the film industry.
But there have been signs of a reawakening of the films artistry with a new generation of film makers. This example, a film made in New Zealand by a young American writer and director, Mark Gordon is one to stir nostalgia for this all but lost art.
The story line is a very straightforward one. A 12 year old girl, captivated by the fairytale like coronation of England's Queen Elizabeth in 1953 becomes obsessed with the notion that if she prevails on her Queen, often and with a great enough devotion, her idol might, on a tour of the Empire, come to New Zealand. Once there she would visit the small town of Middleton, where she might be met and greeted by this young dreamer. As a subplot, the great 19th century struggle by the Maori natives to keep the white man from killing their people and seizing their land is historically brought to life in the character of an old woman, daughter of a slain chief of the Maori who is befriended by our young dreamer. The few months between the Queen's itinerary being settled to include Middleton and the actual visit is a hectic melange of problems and resolutions that revolve about the girl's family, the Maori elder, and the community. The visit (which historically duplicates a real event in 1953, and includes locals who were present at that visit) calms all the ruffled waters and leaves the viewer teary eyed and fulfilled.
What then does one make of the wholesome content of this film, of the sensitive treatment of a child at the verge of her awakening as an adolescent and of her dreams. The film's depiction of the Maori elder's treatment as an outcast, and its reversal by the Queen is also developed with touching sensitivity. There is great care in dovetailing all of the above with great cinematography, a coordinated musical background, a precision of costume and period pieces of furniture and cars that blend together as great film artistry.
One leaves this film with a warm glow that is part nostalgia for simpler and less troubling times, and part hope for an industry to regain its focus, rekindling the art of filmaking to suggest that the human condition is not all bad. Art can reflect the best or the worst about us. It can also search for the simple but mysterious parts of ourselves and our world and express them in artistic metaphor.
This film does that beautifully. I hope it goes far, but if you get a chance, go see it , and take the kids.
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