While we’ve gotten close, we have not actually covered every film and TV representation of Queen Elizabeth I of England yet. Much as Kendra has her 18th-Century Quest, I have my own low-key mission to watch and review every movie and TV show about Mary Queen of Scots (done) and QEI (almost there) because, as I’ve said, the 16th century is my happy place, at least when it comes to historical costume onscreen,
Elizabeth’s life, in film especially, is often linked to Mary Stuart, or to Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII. When she gets her own movies, they try to drum up drama over the virgin queen’s alleged love life — because even a powerful female ruler is nothing if she’s not mooning over a man, according to the patriarchy. Or sometimes, Queen Elizabeth shows up as a bit player in a pirate or adventuring story.
Before we dive into the many versions of Elizabeth onscreen, let’s review some of the major iconography of Elizabeth herself. There are dozens of portraits made during her lifetime, and a few seem to be particularly influential for movies and TV.
For depicting Lady Elizabeth or Princess Elizabeth at the court of Henry VIII, keep this portrait in mind. The gown is the earlier typically “Tudor” style, distinct from what was worn during Elizabeth’s own reign.
Once Elizabeth is crowned in 1559, there are a variety of images and fashion styles to choose from. The early- to -mid-reign looks are common, with the puffy sleeves, close-curled hair, and tons of bling. Elizabeth was known to favor all black or all white gowns, or sometimes deep red shows up in portraits, so these are common onscreen. Only a few productions venture into the distinctive wheel-farthingale gowns of the 1590s.
Some productions do attempt to recreate specific, well-known portraits, with varying levels of success.
And there are elements of portraiture that are likely symbolic and weren’t actually worn, but some movies or TV shows try to recreate anyway.
Queen Elizabeth in Movies and TV
Note: I’m being exhaustive but not ridiculous in my listings here! I refuse to include docu-dramas / documentaries with reenactments, for one. I will include fiction, even science fiction, because it’s fun, but no filmed versions of plays or operas. I’ve tracked down as many obscure TV shows as possible but a whole heck of a lot are simply lost to the mists of time, so don’t @ me about it. Ditto for non-English-language productions because I can only find what I find.
Les amours de la reine Élisabeth (1912), aka The Loves of Queen Elizabeth
QEI: Sarah Bernhardt
Historical accuracy, plot: This silent film starts around the Spanish Armada and focuses on Elizabeth’s relationship with Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. The whole thing can be viewed on Wikimedia Commons and YouTube, but the title cards are such poor quality, I couldn’t follow any plot. Meh.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Bernhardt is wearing more of an Edwardian tea gown with a standing ruff than anything legit Elizabethan. The other women in the cast are dressed more early 17th century, while the men are either Renaissance or medieval. But it’s very elaborate-looking!
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I’m sure it was impressive for it’s day, but I couldn’t make my way through the whole blurry thing online.
Der Favorit der Königin (1922) aka The Favourite of the Queen
QEI: Hanna Ralph
Historical accuracy, plot: I found a film-festival description of this movie saying it’s set in 1590s London and about a doctor performing illegal autopsies who gets entangled with the queen’s lover, Lord Surrey. Sounds entirely fictional and kinda weird.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Hardly any pix are around, but this one, and, well, at least they’re wearing ruffs.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Pass.
The Virgin Queen (1923)
QEI: Diana Manners
Historical accuracy, plot: Per IMDB: “A Lord save the queen from a countess’s assassination plot.” I got nothin’ else.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Pretty, but a couple decades too early for Elizabeth’s reign.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Let’s say not.
The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923)
QEI: Ellen Compton
Historical accuracy, plot: Per IMDB: “The Dauphin’s widow weds a lord and is executed for plotting against the queen.” That’s a terse summation of Mary Stuart’s life there. One assumes that Queen Elizabeth shows up sometime in the later half? No clue.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Really don’t have much to go on, and that image could be of MQoS. Why the unfortunate biggins?!?!
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Newp.
Drake of England aka Drake the Pirate aka Elizabeth of England (1935)
QEI: Athene Seyler
Historical accuracy, plot: Per Wikipedia: “It depicts the life of Francis Drake and the events leading up to the defeat of the Armada in 1588.” But at least one poster changes the movie name and gives Queen Elizabeth top billing, so I really have no idea what this flick is about.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Well, they’re in the right general period, I’ll give it that.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Meh.
Mary of Scotland (1936)
QEI: Florence Eldridge
Historical accuracy, plot: Highly romanticized when it comes to Mary Stuart. Also, Mary and Elizabeth meet the night before MQoS’ execution, such a trope! Mostly this flick is about Mary’s romantic entanglements, but the portrayal of QEI is decent, showing her as the more politically minded of the pair.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Surprisingly good for the period. Walter Plunkett was the costume designer, and the womens’ costumes clearly reference 16th-century images (see the Pelican portrait here?).
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I love this film, despite the inaccuracies! OK, I mostly love it for Katharine Hepburn‘s portrayal of Mary, but Florence Eldridge does a fine job as Elizabeth too.
The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
QEI: Gwendolyn Jones
Historical accuracy, plot: Zero, zilch, none! This is one of many adaptions of Mark Twain’s novel where Henry VIII’s son and heir, Edward Tudor, has a totally unrelated twin who’s poor, and they switch places. Hijinx ensue. In several versions, Lady or Princess Elizabeth shows up as a minor character.
Historical accuracy, costumes: I’m not even sure this picture is Gwendolyn Jones, but I couldn’t find pix of any women in the movie! The men’s costumes look standard-issue Tudor court garb though.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I have little patience for this story or any version of it.
Les perles de la couronne (1937), aka The Pearls of the Crown
QEI: Yvette Pienne
Historical accuracy, plot: None! This is a French comedy tracing seven pearls in the English crown from Henry VIII to the modern day. Queen Elizabeth makes an appearance.
Historical accuracy, costumes: It’s not bad for a brief episode!
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Hardly, but it could be worse.
Fire Over England (1937)
QEI: Flora Robson
Historical accuracy, plot: This is a gorgeous production that plays fast and loose with the story of the Spanish Armada by adding a love story between fictional characters played by actual lovers Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier. They try to steal the show from Flora Robson’s QEI but don’t, IMO, because she’s a bad-ass.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Like many ’30s frock flicks, the costumes have a veneer of historical accuracy layered in with as much fanciful trim, bling, decoration, padding, and shiny bits as possible. Some of these costume tropes show up in later Elizabethan-era movies, perpetuating costume fantasies, even if the actual costumes aren’t recycled. But it sure does look fabulous on film and especially in black and white!
Is it marvelous in our eyes? YAAAAAAASSSS!!!
QEI: Bette Davis
Historical accuracy, plot: Again, it’s the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (played by Errol Flynn), throwing in a fictional lady in waiting (played by Olivia de Havilland), to create a love triangle.
Historical accuracy, costumes: With Orry-Kelly as the designer, everything is rich and ostentatious, even if there’s an awful lot of princess seams in those gowns. But there are also period influences in the shapes and styling on the whole cast. Bette Davis even allowed herself to be aged for the role and shaved her forehead, all rather rare at the time in Hollywood.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Oh yes! It’s enjoyable as hell to watch and a feast for the yes.
The Sea Hawk (1940)
QEI: Flora Robson
Historical accuracy, plot: This film is set right before the Spanish Armada. The story centers around a fictional privateer (played by Errol Flynn) who’s in love with the Spanish ambassador’s niece, who ends up as QEI’s maid of honor. Yeah, not likely!
Historical accuracy, costumes: It’s Orry-Kelly again, and I loves me some of that. The costumes are strikingly 1580s for the 1940s, and there’s even a nice nod to period Spanish costume.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? The plot is thinner than some of the other swashbucklers on this list, but it’s still a solid effort.
Das Herz der Königin (1940), aka The Heart of a Queen
QEI: Maria Koppenhöfer
Historical accuracy, plot: The life of Mary Queen of Scots, with a helping of anti-British propaganda since QEI is apparently portrayed as a cold-hearted bitch, in this German film.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Decent for the times — that stock photo is a nice riff on the Sieve portrait, with contemporary makeup.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? No idea! Let me know if you’ve seen it.
Young Bess (1953)
QEI: Jean Simmons
Historical accuracy, plot: Well … the movie is as much based on a popular historical romance novel as it is on young Elizabeth’s possible romantic feelings for Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour, who married her final stepmother, Catherine Parr. At least the movie shrinks the age difference between Elizabeth and Thomas to about 15 years so it’s a bit less inappropriate and turns the plot into unrequited love on Elizabeth’s side.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Walter Plunkett again, in princess-seamed glory, but with beautiful fabrics and trims.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Fair to middling, decent performances, nothing outstanding.
The Virgin Queen (1955)
QEI: Bette Davis
Historical accuracy, plot: Is it weird that this movie’s plot nominally starts 15 years after The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, which Bette Davis filmed 16 years earlier? No? That’s only me? OK, then. Here we get a love triangle between QEI, Sir Walter Raleigh, and “Beth” Throckmorton, one of the queen’s ladies in waiting. While it’s true that Elizabeth was angry when Raleigh and Bess married in secret, no-one knows if that was because the queen was desperately in love with Raleigh herself.
Historical accuracy, costumes: With costumes by Charles LeMaire and Mary Wills, the look is more eye-poppingly technicolor than paying homage to any particular portraits. But the hair and makeup on Davis still looks solidly 16th century.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? If you only watch one Bette Davis Queen Elizabeth movie, I’d pick Private Lives over this.
The Story of Mankind (1957)
QEI: Agnes Moorehead
Historical accuracy, plot: Per IMDB: “The devil and the spirit of mankind argue as to whether or not humanity is ultimately good or evil.” Apparently, they traverse time and take a peek at Queen Elizabeth I. Not historically accurate then.
Historical accuracy, costumes: This costume is recycled from The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), so that’s as far as it goes.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Yeah, no.
Sir Francis Drake (1961-1962)
QEI: Jean Kent
Historical accuracy, plot: 26 episodes on the life of Sir Francis Drake seems like A LOT to me, even if they’re only 30 minutes each. I bet there’s some fiction going on in there somewhere.
Historical accuracy, costumes: While the production apparently spent some money to recreate a version of Drake’s ship, I don’t see anything spectacular in the way of costumes.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I’m in no hurry to find out more.
Seven Seas to Calais (1962)
QEI: Irene Worth
Historical accuracy, plot: Mixing Sir Walter Raleigh with the Babington Plot against QEI that helped get Mary Queen of Scots executed, this movie is as much a history lesson as The Tudors or Reign are these days.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Not terrible, not great, just so-so. This is fairly low-budget Italian production, going more for the sword-fighting than anything else.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I watched it so you don’t have to.
Elizabeth the Queen (1968)
QEI: Judith Anderson
Historical accuracy, plot: Per IMDB: “In the sixteenth century, Queen Elizabeth I (Dame Judith Anderson) is the ruler of England. Robert Devereux, 3rd Earl of Essex (Charlton Heston) is her lover, best friend, and worst enemy.” So maybe the plot is historical? Anderson was nominated for an Emmy, and this TV movie won for Outstanding Dramatic Program.
Historical accuracy, costumes: The silhouette looks fine, and I like the bling. However, Essex is wearing some thigh-high leather boots that are way more modern-pirate than 16th-c. period.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? This TV movie is a smidge before my time.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
QEI: Amanda Jane Smythe
Historical accuracy, plot: The film has some minor inaccuracies but nothing huge, and Geneviève Bujold is probably the best Anne Boleyn onscreen. A young Elizabeth Tudor is shown towards the end, and after Anne’s death, her voice proclaims “My Elizabeth shall be queen, and my blood will have been well spent.” Does this look like a 3-year-old? I have no idea.
Historical accuracy, costumes: We love so much about Margaret Furse‘s costumes, except for the atrocious headgear. Let’s hope she didn’t design those.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Absolutely a delight to watch!
Elizabeth R (1971)
QEI: Glenda Jackson
Historical accuracy, plot: Formatted as six 85-minute plays, the TV series covers Elizabeth’s life from 1549 during the reign of her half-sister Mary all the way to her death in 1603. It is exquisite in historical detail and brilliant dialog! Each episode focuses on a central theme, such as her relationship with Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, or the imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots, and gives it the care and depth that film treatments cannot (and later TV versions still haven’t). All with the utterly glorious Glenda Jackson, who is, bar none, the best Queen Elizabeth onscreen!
Historical accuracy, costumes: At least 200 gowns were made for the series, and designer Elizabeth Waller won a Emmy for her work meticulously recreating portraits of QEI — the Darnley, Phoenix, Armada, and Ditchley portraits, among others. And on a skimpy BBC budget using plastic gems and curtain fabrics, which maybe are more noticeable in today’s HDTV but the cut and shape of these costumes is still incredibly of the period. Check out our video on 16th-century costumes, the best, where we rave about how much we love these costumes.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? It is MOST marvelous!!! This is the best!!! Forever, amen!!!
Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)
QEI: Glenda Jackson
Historical accuracy, plot: Yet another romanticized version of Mary Queen of Scots’ life (is there any other kind?), complete with MQoS meeting Queen Elizabeth twice, first when MQoS first arrives in England, and again before the execution. But hey, Glenda Jackson plays QEI again, and that’s always a good thing!
Historical accuracy, costumes: With costumes by Margaret Furse, the look is mostly historical and very lush with some questionable fabric choices.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I’ve admittedly watched this one over and over again because it’s pretty and inoffensive even though it’s wildly inaccurate. Much like the Cate Blanchett flicks coming up on this list.
The Prince and the Pauper (1976)
QEI: Nina Thomas
Historical accuracy, plot: Still more Mark Twain adaptions! Here’s Princess Elizabeth for ya.
Historical accuracy, costumes: This one’s a little different, in that the costumes are by James Acheson, who would go on to win Oscars for The Last Emperor, Dangerous Liaisons, and Restoration. Plus, this image looks a lot like the portrait of young Elizabeth.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Sure, fine then. Anyone seen it and can say more?
Crossed Swords (1977)
QEI: Lalla Ward
Historical accuracy, plot: OMG, here’s another version of The Prince and the Pauper, thus Princess Elizabeth is a background figure.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Looks fine to me, other than a sticky-uppy French hood.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Not my thing.
Will Shakespeare aka Life of Shakespeare (1978)
QEI: Patience Collier
Historical accuracy, plot: Tim Curry stars in this 6-hour miniseries about Shakespeare, and maybe someday, I’ll break down and buy a set and watch the damn thing! It could be terrible or terribly fun, I honestly can’t tell.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Trying hard, that’s for sure.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Don’t know if this is worth searching for, opinions?
QEI: Jenny Runacre
Historical accuracy, plot: Per IMDB: “Queen Elisabeth I travels 400 years into the future to witness the appalling revelation of a dystopian London overrun by corruption and a vicious gang of punk guerrilla girls led by the new Monarch of Punk.”
Historical accuracy, costumes: Surprisingly, this looks like a decent 1590s gown.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I probably would have enjoyed it more in college, but I bet it still holds some appeal
Drake’s Venture (1980)
QEI: Charlotte Cornwell
Historical accuracy, plot: For a TV movie about Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world, I’m guessing Queen Elizabeth is only at the start or end of the story. No idea about the overall accuracy because it seems to have just aired once and no DVD was made.
Historical accuracy, costumes: This looks fine, floating ruff notwithstanding. I couldn’t find anything in color and without watermarks so it’s hard to tell.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Did anyone catch this one on TV?
Blackadder II (1986)
QEI: Miranda Richardson
Historical accuracy, plot: Um, not really. Queen Elizabeth is the only historical character of the main cast, though Sir Walter Raleigh appears in one episode and other historical figures, like Shakespeare, are referred to. But who cares, because the whole ridiculous thing is absolutely funny and wonderful!
Historical accuracy, costumes: Really good! Yes, it’s a comedy and nothing is the least bit serious in the show, but all the characters wear proper kit from top to bottom. And the outfits were custom-made for this show, as is apparent since Blackadder’s doublet has an elaborate snake embroidered on one sleeve.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Yes, oh so very marvelous! If you don’t LOL over this, we can’t be friends!
QEI: Quentin Crisp
Historical accuracy, plot: Based on Virginia Woolf’s novel, the story is entirely fictional. The first small portion is set around 1600, right before Queen Elizabeth’s death, where she meets Orlando and makes a final bequest.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Sandy Powell designed an insanely lavish and grand gown for Quentin Crisp to crossdress as QEI (thus mirroring Tilda Swinton‘s gender-bending Orlando character). Historically accurate stays and a wheel farthingale can be glimpsed in one scene.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? OH YES BABY YES.
The Prince and the Pauper (1996)
QEI: Elizabeth Ann O’Brien
Historical accuracy, plot: The latest BBC version. Here, Lady Elizabeth is forced into some of the palace intrigue, and it’s all on YouTube but I didn’t have patience for it.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Sure, looks fine. Nice version of the red gown in the young Elizabeth portrait, and no more sticky-uppy French hood.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? I am never going to watch more than the 2 minutes I already did.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
QEI: Judi Dench
Historical accuracy, plot: Totally fictional plot that works themes from Shakespeare’s plays into his life story. But it’s sweet and romantic and funny and cute! And then Queen Elizabeth shows up and is all cool ‘n shit.
Historical accuracy, costumes: More Sandy Powell, winning an Oscar for this, because she is awesome! The silhouettes are great, and in various dressing and undressing scenes, we see late 16th-century stays, smocks, farthingales, and such. The trimming is lush and gorgeous. There are a range of characters, from scummy lower-class actors and ruffians to middling-class bankers to Queen Elizabeth’s court, and everybody wears garb appropriate to their station and that helps tell the story and build a world within the film.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Yes! Unless you’re dead inside.
QEI: Cate Blanchett
Historical accuracy, plot: Ooo, boy, where do we start? The timeline is all fucked up, moreso than usual for a “historical” movie. The Mary of Guise plotline, while entertaining, is wildly inaccurate. There’s a ton of errors and omissions in the relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley. A bunch of great actors doing sometimes interesting things that make for fun fiction, sure.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Alexandra Byrne‘s designs here are the epitome of a stripped-down, modern, “relatable” version of historical costume that bugs the shit out of me. The overall shapes tend to be quite accurate, but the garments lack the richness of detail that I associate with the period.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Pleasantly pretty and enjoyable to watch.
Academy Awards ceremony (1999)
QEI: Whoopi Goldberg
Historical accuracy, plot: Not applicable, this was just a walk-on!
Historical accuracy, costumes: Bob Mackie designed this gown for Whoopi to wear while hosting the ceremony and do a bit about the Elizabethan movies up for awards that year. This riff on the Armada portrait is made quite theatrically all in one piece that zips up the back so Whoopi could jump out of it fast backstage and into her next outfit. Very clever.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? It’s a fun example of QEI iconography!
Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot (2004)
QEI: Catherine McCormack
Historical accuracy, plot: This extremely shitty two-part miniseries is about Mary Queen of Scots and then James VI of Scotland / I of England, leading up to the Gunpowder Plot. Elizabeth is in the first half, but who cares, it’s fucking AWFUL.
Historical accuracy, costumes: None are apparent. See also, our video on 16th-century costumes, the worst.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? UGH, NO, BURN IT ALL DOWN.
The Virgin Queen (2005)
QEI: Anne-Marie Duff
Historical accuracy, plot: This four-part miniseries covers Elizabeth’s life from before her coronation to her death, about the same timeline as Elizabeth R, but with less about the politics and more about her love life. There are minor historical omissions but no great deviations in the plot.
Historical accuracy, costumes: This BBC production doesn’t seem to have had a massive budget, and sometimes the skimpy fabrics and recycled costumes downgrade the look (this wired ruff is recycled from Orlando). But there’s a strong feel for the period and an attempt to show the progress of time through fashion changing.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? This one ranks right above the Cate Blanchett flicks for historical veracity alone.
Elizabeth I (2005)
QEI: Helen Mirren
Historical accuracy, plot: This two-part HBO miniseries starts later in Elizabeth’s reign, maybe 1570s or ’80s, and touches on her considering a French marriage, her execution of Mary Stuart, and finally the Essex affair. It’s a somewhat abbreviated history, but no great inaccuracies.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Visually, I feel like this is an heir to Elizabeth R, because, while it doesn’t recreate specific portraits, the costumes show a richness and level of detail not seen since. From historically accurate stays to hand-embroidered gowns, the costumes evoke the period unlike many of the contemporary productions.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Very much so!
Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
QEI: Cate Blanchett
Historical accuracy, plot: A lot of this flick’s plot is milked from 1955’s The Virgin Queen, and that wasn’t the best QEI movie to begin with. The Babington plot and everything related to Mary Stuart is hugely fictionalized, and hey, so are a bunch of the details of the Spanish Armada. Much like it’s predecessor, this movie plays fast and loose with history.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Sure, we love seeing Cate in full armor on horseback delivering the Tilbury speech! There’s no evidence that happened, but it looks cool. Likewise, this movie is full of big, fancy dresses that are faintly connected to the 16th century, far more haute couture than historical.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Same as the first one, this sequel is just pretty and enjoyable to watch.
“The Shakespeare Code,” Doctor Who (2007)
QEI: Angela Pleasence
Historical accuracy, plot: The Doctor and his companion Martha arrive in 1599 near the Globe Theatre where they meet Shakespeare and eventually Queen Elizabeth. Of course, this is all fictional.
Historical accuracy, costumes: The 16th-c. costumes look alright, and this wired ruff is recycled from Orlando and The Virgin Queen.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? It’s not bad!
The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)
QEI: Maisie Smith
Historical accuracy, plot: At the very end, a young Elizabeth Tudor is shown frolicking about with the coda that, as Anne Boleyn’s daughter, she’ll rule longer after Henry’s short-lived son. That bit is true enough, but the movie has a ton of inaccuracies that stem from Philippa Fucking Gregory‘s novel.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Oh Sandy Powell, we love you, but so much about this flick’s costumes are a miss when it comes to Tudor. Except for that little girl running around, she’s fine.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? For entertainment value, I rank it below the Cate Blanchett movies.
“Four Great Women and a Manicure,” The Simpsons (2009)
QEI: Selma Bouvier (voice by Julie Kavner)
Historical accuracy, plot: In one segment, Homer, as Sir Walter Raleigh, brings tobacco to Queen Elizabeth’s court. Which, sure, he’s often credited with, but the rest of this is silly fiction.
Historical accuracy, costumes: C’mon, it’s a cartoon, they’re doing the best they can.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? It’s kind of hilarious, though it’s just a short part of the episode.
Season 4, The Tudors (2010)
QEI: Laoise Murray
Historical accuracy, plot: The show, overall, has haaaauuuuuugggee faults when it comes to historical accuracy. In season 4, the appearance of Lady Elizabeth is fairly basic in that she appears at Henry VIII’s court on occasion.
Historical accuracy, costumes: HAHHHAAHHAHHAHAHA, not so much. I mean, Elizabeth here isn’t so bad, but everything else about this series is such muddled crap.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Aw hell no.
QEI: Joely Richardson & Vanessa Redgrave
Historical accuracy, plot: Dear gods, this is a stupid movie! It’s predicated on the idea that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, and Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford, did, plus he slept with Queen Elizabeth, who was his own mother. It’s fucking lunacy and one of the most preposterous and frankly annoying stories in historical film.
Historical accuracy, costumes: They’re gorgeous, though the earlier ones are less accurate than the later, which are pretty amazing and showcase the 1580s-90s in a beautiful way rarely seen.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Nah, it’s pretty but dumb.
“The Day of the Doctor,” Doctor Who (2013)
QEI: Joanna Page
Historical accuracy, plot: The Tenth and Eleventh Doctors end up in 1562 England for part of the episode and encounter Queen Elizabeth, along with aliens. Of course, it’s not historically accurate!
Historical accuracy, costumes: From the pin-tucked fabric to the sari trim to the bobby-pin-less hair, this costume leaves some things to be desired. Sure, it could be worse, as we will see.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? This is a great Doctor Who episode, but not a great QEI appearance.
QEI: Helen McCrory
Historical accuracy, plot: This family-friendly movie is set during the “lost years” of William Shakepeare’s youth, during which he left Stratford-upon-Avon and rose to fame as a playwright in London. Kendra found it “decently entertaining.”
Historical accuracy, costumes: A bit of a mish-mash but generally OK Elizabethan (this wired ruff is recycled from Orlando, The Virgin Queen, Doctor Who).
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Not bad.
QEI: Rachel Skarsten
Historical accuracy, plot: Teenage soap opera FTW! Super silly, sometimes entertaining, hardly ever historical.
Historical accuracy, costumes: By the time Queen Elizabeth came around, the show was actually creating more of its own costumes and not just wearing designer gowns, so she had a lot of period-esque fantasy princess dresses.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? While I have a weird soft spot for this, it really is dreck.
Reinas: Virgen y Mártir (2016-2017) aka Queens: The Virgin and the Martyr
QEI: Rebecca Scott
Historical accuracy, plot: Oh for fuck’s sake, this telenovela makes Reign look like Elizabeth R! I watched the whole thing with the intention of writing it up for Snark Week, and I still can’t formulate words about how terrible this is.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Shitty with a side of shit, but blinged up some.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Aw hell nah!
QEI: Emma Thompson
Historical accuracy, plot: I like the couple eps I’ve seen of this series, they play with Shakepeare’s life in a humorous fashion. But I can’t find this episode so I don’t know how or why Queen Elizabeth shows up. But mad props for getting Emma!
Historical accuracy, costumes: The series costumes are generally OK. This version of the Armada gown is fabulous, but it really needs a bigger farthingale underneath — the skirts look droopy.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Can someone please find this for me???
Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
QEI: Margot Robbie
Historical accuracy, plot: UGH NO. It’s less the timeline specifics than the characterizations because everyone acts like modern moody bitchy chicks in a cheesy soap opera, it’s ridiculous. Plus, Mary and Elizabeth have a big pointless cliched meeting,
Historical accuracy, costumes: The denim, the kicky shrugs, the punky jewelry, the bad hair, the manbags, the steampunk accents, it’s all offensive. Then randomly at the end, Queen Elizabeth has a few semi-historical costumes — why couldn’t that have happened during the rest of the movie??? We rant about this in our podcast and also in our video on 16th-century costumes, the worst.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? GAWD NO!!! CAN’T YOU HEAR MY INCOHERENT SCREAMING???
“Bloody Mary Hour,” El ministerio del tiempo (2020), aka The Ministry of Time
QEI: Rosa Blake
Historical accuracy, plot: The ministry has to save Elizabeth from getting poisoned by her sister Queen Mary, so yay, pure fiction!
Historical accuracy, costumes: From the few pix I can find, I’m seeing vague attempts at Tudor on Mary and even more vague attempts at Elizabethan on Elizabeth (note the ruff) even though they’re supposed to be in the same period.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? Eh, dunno, haven’t seen the ep.
Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)
QEI: Kimberly Stockton
Historical accuracy, plot: Duuuude! Totally bogus on the historical front. This third trip through time by San Dimas’ now middle-aged Wyld Stallyns, plus their daughters, is full of LOLs.
Historical accuracy, costumes: Most excellent! Apparently Stockton portrays the queen at renfaires and made her own gown.
Is it marvelous in our eyes? The flick is fun, but if you blink, you might miss QEI (I did, till this was posted on Facebook!).
Who’s your favorite Queen Elizabeth onscreen? What’s the best of these movies or TV shows? Why?