Monday, November 05, 2007

A Penny for the Guy?

Happy Guy Fawkes Day...

Bonfires are fun and all. Burning people in effigy in 2007? I guess it all depends on culture, tradition, and upbringing (Yes, he was a terrorist. No, he wasn't a hero...).



Heroes... Speaking of which, I saw this preview for Elizabeth: the Golden Age in a theater a few weeks ago, and despite some fine acting by Cate Blanchett, I guess it was a golden flop upon release. This was director Shekhar Kapur's sequel to the 1998 film Elizabeth, one of the most ridiculously over-the-top anti-Catholic movies I've ever seen. This one doesn't appear too different in that regard.

On seeing the preview, my friends and I turned to each other in puzzlement and said, "Who are the bad guys supposed to be here? Both? Neither?" Why, as an American, am I automatically supposed to side with Elizabeth and her crew over Spain? Don't get me wrong, I've seen great dramas done on Elizabeth I (Elizabeth R comes to mind, it was absolutely superb),but how about some balance? Elizabeth II is a pretty nice gal (without a lot to say), but Elizabeth I is supposed to be a hero of mine? I have about as much affection and admiration for Elizabeth I as the British do for George Bush.

13 comments:

crystal said...

I agree - I'm on the side of the French and the Scots, myself :-)

When the guys who blow up the government win the war, they're liberationsits, not terrorists.

Garpu the Fork said...

I've often wondered how Catholics in England handle some of the anti-Catholic bias...it can't be easy when it's as ingrained, even if (like with Guy Fawkes day), it's divorced from some events.

crystal said...

Makes me think of thatrecent Act of Settlement thing .

Jeff said...

Hi Crystal,

I'm on the side of the French and the Scots, myself

I think these Elizabeth movies were revenge for Braveheart. :-)

The Act of Settlement. Yeah, I read about that on your blog. It's still in effect, and N.T. Wright likes it that way.

Hi Garpu,

I was snooping around on the blogs yesterday, and it sounds like the sectarian aspects of it have faded away for the most part. I read some people lamenting that Halloween is pushing out Guido Fawkes in the UK, and that the penny-collection and the bonfires aren't like they used to be.

Liam said...

Yeah, Elizabeth was no great friend to the Irish, either. I mentioned to my wife (ha!) that if I were to see this movie, I would be cheering for the Spanish.

Jeff said...

Liam!

Welcome back. You've been missed. How was the honeymoon? Were you in Spain for part of it?

Liam said...

Hi Jeff --
The honeymoon was in Prague and it was great. We'll get to Spain one of these days.

There were some Spanish people at the wedding, though.

Garpu the Fork said...

Ooooh, lucky! I've heard Prague is gorgeous!

cowboyangel said...

I have about as much affection and admiration for Elizabeth I as the British do for George Bush.

Ouch. Come on, Elizabeth was infinitely more interesting and important than George W. Bush could even dream of being. Catholicism isn't the only thing to consider when looking back at historical figures. Do we really belive the Spanish (as much as I love them - certainly more than I do the Brits) were morally superior at that point just because they were Catholic? Maybe when they weren't raping Latin America, I don't know.

Elizabeth was a young woman who came into power after a tumultuous time, and she did a pretty damn good job of holding things together. How important was she to the history of women? To show that they could be leaders? It was a man's world and she did well in it. And what about her patronage of the arts? I mean, look at the amazing works of literature produced during her reign. At a time when monarchs had so much control over creative production, I don't think that should be ignored.

I didn't really groove on the first Elizabeth movie, as much as I like Cate Blanchett. And I have no plans on seeing the new one, though my wife will probably make me watch it on DVD at some point, as she did with the first one.

Hey, is it my imagination, or is that building in the first scene of the preview the same one used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

Jeff said...

Hi William,

Do we really believe the Spanish (as much as I love them - certainly more than I do the Brits) were morally superior at that point just because they were Catholic?

No. I didn't say that. I didn't say the Spanish were the good guys. What this filmmaker is doing is making the "Virgin Queen" into a Virgin Goddess, as if she's some kind of antithesis to the Catholic Virgin Mary.

Elizabeth was a young woman who came into power after a tumultuous time, and she did a pretty damn good job of holding things together.

Holding what together?? The hell do I care what she was holding together...

How important was she to the history of women?

About as important as that other ironpants beeyatch, Margaret Thatcher. :-)

Besides, Catherine of Aragon was a damned sight tougher and more admirable than she was, and a better role model for women, fighting for her rights against a husband who was lying and trying to cast her aside.

To show that they could be leaders? It was a man's world and she did well in it.

Wasn't Wolsingham really running the show?

And what about her patronage of the arts? I mean, look at the amazing works of literature produced during her reign. At a time when monarchs had so much control over creative production, I don't think that should be ignored.

No, it shouldn't. Fascinating that Miguel de Cervantes and that closet-Catholic Shakespeare died on the same day.

cowboyangel said...

Holding what together?? The hell do I care what she was holding together...

England, man, England! Home field of the Beatles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Monty Python!

What this filmmaker is doing is making the "Virgin Queen" into a Virgin Goddess, as if she's some kind of antithesis to the Catholic Virgin Mary.

I'm fisking again. Sorry. This is an interesting point, though. You're saying there's a process of deification going on with Elizabeth? Hadn't thought of that. There has been a lot of interest in her recently, hasn't there? These two Liz films, Shakespeare in Love, the Elizabeth production with Helen Mirren, which La Reina really liked - I only saw part of that one. Mirren is just so damn good. I don't think Cate Blanchett is in her league quite yet, as Elizabeth or otherwise. Maybe in 20 years, though. We're right in the middle of the final Prime Suspect. Oof. That's a tough one. But again, Mirren. What a great on-going role for her.

And now I'm totally off topic. Nothing like arguing about a 16th century British monarch! Don't want to lose that thread! :-)

Maybe the Brits are feeling vulnerable and wanting to look back at one of their beloved monarchs? Or women have gained more power and want to look back? I wonder why the interest.

I don't know much about Catherine of Aragon. Hell, I don't know much about Elizabeth either. A couple of movies and parts of a book by Alison Weir. And whatever I picked up by osmosis over the years.

Walsingham? I don't know - Elizabeth reigned for - hold on, I have to go over to Wikipedia - 45 years. You don't hold on to power that long if you're at the mercy of someone else, do you? Anyway, it looks like he didn't really reach his high position until about 1570 and died in 1590, which would only be 20 years of her 45-year reign.

I think she was much more important in the history of women than Thatcher. Though no less a bitch. I wasn't arguing that she wasn't ruthless, controlling, manipulative, etc. Only that she was a very interesting historical figure. Thatcher, too, in her own way, though I guess since I had to live through her time period and her influence, I'm less inclined to be interested in her. Though one could argue that she did give us punk rock - without her would The Only Band That Matters have been as pissed off? I think not.

And as another aside, historically speaking, won't Thatcher be viewed as a greater PM than Blair? I think his role in the Iraq misadventure will mar his legacy. (And what, exactly, was his legacy to begin with? The introduction of the Third Way?) He came off, in the end, as a weak lap-dog of the Americans. Even if he may have actually kept the Bush cabal from doing things even worse than they did. Brits may grimace when reflecting on Ironpants, but they'll secretly admire her strength, because we like our leaders strong. With Blair, I think they'll just grimace. Which is why I suspect Churchill will remain more highly regarded, despite his various disasters.

And no, that wasn't the same place as the Castle Aaarrggh in Holy Grail. I went back and compared pictures.

Jeff said...

William,

England, man, England! Home field of the Beatles, Alfred Hitchcock, and Monty Python!

Oh por favor, opinión a mí
Usted me dejará ser su hombre
Y por favor, opinión a mí
Usted me dejará llevar a cabo su mano!
Ahora déjeme llevar a cabo su mano,
Deseo llevar a cabo su mano!


Hey, that works as well as "Komm, gib mir deine Hand", which was a hit it's own right!

In fact, if the Inquisition had conquered England, the four moptops might have been in Hamburg even sooner, because they probably would have been working in a German auto plant putting some SEATS or Opels together somewhere...

Pablo Azúcar McCartney, Jorge Santamaria del Arizon, Juan Guzmán Díaz Vidal Y Lleñon del los Japonoses, and "Ringo".

Instead of singing about Penny Lane with its finger-pies, and firemen with hourglasses and portraits of the queen, they might have sung about hot-blooded gitanas, and down-on-their-luck toreros carrying pictures of Juan Belmonte on La Calle de Los Duros in La Triana section of Sevilla.

You're saying there's a process of deification going on with Elizabeth?

Yeah, this Indian director seems to have a jones on for first queen of what would later become the Empire. Crystal came up with a good article about that here.

As for the male influence on her, I probably should have attributed that more properly to Willam Cecil than to Walsingham.

It's also not to say that the story of Elizabeth I doesn't make for a fascinating story historically. Like I said, the BBC Elizabeth R series was superb, and I thought Judi Dench was great in Shakespeare in Love. Helen Mirren, of course, is da bomb. She's great in everything she's in.

As for Maggie Thatcher, like her soul-mate Ronald Reagan, I don't think her legacy is going to age very well. I guess I should be grateful to her for great albums like London Calling and songs like Margaret on the Guillotine by Morrissey, but I think she'll eventually be remembered for being Reagan's lap-dog, resisting the European Union, her jingoistic little war in the Falklands, breaking the coal miners, the obnoxious and widely despised Poll Tax, and nearly getting herself blown up in the loo by the IRA in Brighton.

I hear what you're saying about Blair, but they have a lot less skin in Iraq than we do, cynical though that may sound. I think Blair's legacy is safe in that he was able to successfully usher through the Northern Ireland Peace process to a successful conclusion, a war that was within Britain's own declared borders. For that, I think he deserves to be honored; it was something that his predecessors had neither the vision, the inclination, the decency, or ultimately the spine to do.

Sorry, missed the MP Castle Aaaarrggh reference earlier! "Feche la vache!" :-)

Kevin said...
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