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The Virgin Queen explores the full sweep of Elizabeth's life: from her days of fear as a potential victim of her sister's terror; through her great love affair with Robert Dudley; into her years of triumph over the Armada; and finally her old age and her last, enigmatic relationship with her young protégé, the Earl of Essex. Written by
Another version of a Tudor, Elizabeth I, the Gloriana, done up quite splendidly by the BBC.
The strongest aspect, as I viewed it, was neither the story, the costumes or the scenes, but the bold performance of Anne Marie Duff. She glows as a young Elizabeth, and displays strength and vanity as her aging self. Yes, the make-up could have been better, or as one suggested an alternate older actress, but the pace of Duff's performance was incrementally finer, than finer still, as she reached deeper into her character. And if one seeks out a miniature of the Queen, one sees a remarkable resemblance between the Queen and the actress.
Dudley, portrayed by Hardy, was a good foil; his perhaps son, but certainly step son, Essex portrayed by Hans Matheson, were interestingly cast, not so much by the actors but rather for the dramatic interpretation brought to each character. It is only bested by the old Bette Davis version of Elizabeth and Essex in spotlighting how the Virgin Queen sought male affection, but rebuffed any control but her own.
What burden the Queen, a bastard, a princess, and then a monarch must have endured in her private life, a life often dismissed for her political reign, or exaggerated for her fancy of her childhood friend, Robbie.
A most worthy addition to the pantheon of Tudor drama.
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