In my continuing series of deep-dives on classic frock flicks we’ve talked about a lot but never shown all the costumes, it’s time for Elizabeth (1998). This was our second podcast (recorded when Golden Age premiered, because, even way back then, we weren’t fond of going into actual movie theaters to watch stuff!). We’ve looked back at the film on its 20th anniversary (that makes me feel old!). But still, where are all the costumes? Finally, here they are, folks!
Read all of this review of Elizabeth (1998) here!
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I used to love this movie, now I realized I only liked it because I was starving for Elizabethan films and I adored Cate Blanchett. It’s pretty much crap, but she’s brilliant.
My opinion, exactly. I remember it’s being very dark (as if E.T. never had a cheerful day during her entire reign) and the chronology all over the place.
The plot is also kind of terrible, when it wouldn’t have been that hard to write a better script that didn’t stomp all over history.
Great review, and a beautiful job dissecting the costumes!
To address one point:
“…does that one lady have a modern bob haircut? I couldn’t stop staring.”
She’s also in the wider “Snark Week” view of the first photo in your review showing Elizabeth in the blue/green dress, on the left of the photo.
It’s a front view daylight shot, and her hair is clearly a bob cut, with the hair parted in the middle.
However, I strongly suspect they were recreating the famous Bronzino portrait of Bia de Medici with this character, since so much of that first outdoor shot directly corresponds to that portrait, including the pale dress color, sleeve caps and dangling pearl earrings.
However, why they would use a 1542-45 Italian posthumous portrait of a very young girl from a noble family who died in childhood as the basis for one of Elizabeth I’s attendants– I have no idea.
Bia de’ Medici would be the wrong place / time & way too young to be inspiration for one of QEI’s ladies in waiting. I seriously doubt that was the intent — somebody just skipped hairdressing, lol!
I absolutely agree that Bia de’ Medici is an extremely odd and even inappropriate frame of reference, and I totally don’t understand it– unless there’s some sort of private in-joke involving Lily Allen being the young daughter of producer Alison Owen.
However, this isn’t a case of “somebody just skipped hairdressing.” In fact, there’s a deliberate effort there to completely copy the hairstyle in the Bronzino portrait, including not only the cut and slightly flipped-up ends and the center part– but also those braids that edge the hairline and are caught up in small loops in front of the ears.
Compare this frame cap from the “volta” scene:
with the hair in the portrait:
And you can see the details when Lily Allen turns profile at 1:21 in this clip of the scene:
And while it’s in the wrong fabrics– and there’s that sheer partlet-verging-on-a-fichu filling in the neckline– that costume in the first scene really has a lot of design points in common with the Bronzino portrait: wide rectangular neckline resting on the shoulders, with a decorated edge; ruched shoulder caps; similar sleeve shape (but in sheer fabric).
Additionally, while the color isn’t the same as the portrait, it’s still much lighter than the other richly colored costumes (well, it is in the “Snark Week” framecap, anyway), and none of the other ladies-in-waiting have the same design points.
And she not only has similar pearl drop earrings, you can see a necklace under the sheer fabric that’s similar to the pearl necklace Bia wears, though it appears to have other beads mixed in rather than all pearls.
I’m just stunned you can’t see any of this.
Wow, you’re really stretching to make this point. Esp. since things like the pearls & necklace are just a typical style of the period in Italy, France, & England, & not particularly unique. But fine, enjoy your obsession!
Yikes! Apologies, definitely didn’t intend to “chap your hide!”
Even though we disagree on this one point, that was an excellent job of analyzing the costumes in ELIZABETH, and I always enjoy your work!
Wow, that’s a dead ringer. I’m positive they did it on purpose. Probably, they got a book of “period” paintings from all over the place and just picked things at random, not really caring where they were set or in what period.
Isn’t the bobbed younger Lady in waiting Lily Allen? When she wasn’t yet singing cheeky popsongs but mainly producer Allison Owen’s daughter? Her brother Alfie is in this as well as the little boy betraying the priesthole/his parents hiding in the chapel. I assumed that’s why her hair got a bit of extra treatment/none at all.
Cannot watch this film. Studied Tudor history in undergrad, and while I know this blog is about frocks, the historical inaccuracies in the plot, which are totally unnecessary, put me into rage mode.
Me, too. Very irritating when a director’s “creative vision,” or whatever, is more important than the subject matter. Michael Hirst’s scripts also tend to infuriate me.