Recommended Films

The following selections are my Top 4 recommended films pertaining to Elizabeth and the Tudor dynasty.
Why not 5 picks, you ask? Plain and simple, I have not found a fifth one that I liked enough to put on my list! When I find one, I will post it!
I will later expand this list to include the films I do not recommend, accompanied with an explanation of why I find those films to be problematic.

#1 Pick
Elizabeth R
1971 BBC TV Miniseries
6 Episodes, 85 minutes
Starring Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth

Glenda Jackson as Elizabeth, wearing a replica of the dress worn by the queen in the Darnley Portrait (See Below)
This 6 part miniseries is the most comprehensive of all Elizabeth programs, as it begins by covering her ascension to the throne in the first episode, and concludes with her "Golden Speech" at the end of her reign. The BBC did a wonderful job creating a script that covered most of the major highs and lows of Elizabeth's reign; the script also manages to include actual quotes from  Elizabeth and her court, which was particularly exciting to me since I am a stickler for accuracy.
All the actors are remarkably talented; It is clear most of them have been trained in the tradition of the English theatre, as evident by their presence and authenticity in the actions of  their respective characters, and the delivery of their lines. 
What truly makes this the best Elizabeth cinema experience of all time, though, is the incomparable Glenda Jackson. Glenda Jackson is the best Elizabeth I have ever seen, showing the range of Elizabeth's emotions and her strengths and weaknesses as both woman and queen. She manages to portray her from her mid-twenties to her death, an amazing feat for any actress to attempt, let alone succeed at. Jackson's political role may have rubbed off on her, as she is an MP in the UK!

This miniseries won 1 BAFTA for Glenda Jackson, 5 Emmy's and 1 RTS.
 I have found this miniseries to be readily available in most libraries in the US, and I am assuming it would be much the same in the UK. Otherwise, you can purchase it on Amazon of B&N.

The Darnley Portrait of Queen Elizabeth in her prime.
#2 Pick
Elizabeth I
2005 TV Miniseries
3 Parts, 223 Minutes
Starring Dame Helen Mirren as Elizabeth, Jeremy Irons as Robert Dudley, Hugh Dancy as Essex, Toby Jones as Robert Cecil, and Eddie Redmayne as the Earl of Southampton

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth addressing her troops at Tilbury in 1588
This miniseries shows Elizabeth in her latter years, and focuses on her relationships with Robert Dudley and the Earl of Essex. Disc one shows the comfortable and supportive relationship Elizabeth and the Earl of Leicester have settled into now that they have made peace with the fact that they will never marry. The Earl of Leicester dies in the conclusion of disc one, bridging us over to disc two where we see Elizabeth's fascination with Essex, who in time proves to be unworthy of her attention.The film
The all star cast cannot be beat-everyone plays their character perfectly. The costumes are exquisite, as is the setting; the camera follows the characters as they move through the maze of halls and chambers in the queens apartments, giving you the feeling that you are really walking through the palace yourself.
This miniseries does a particularly good job detailing the the events leading up to the Queen of Scot's execution, and the aftermath. It also gives ample screen time to Elizabeth's marriage negotiations to her "frog", and the doomed Essex rebellion.
I found the dynamic between Helen Mirren and Robert Cecil (her pygmy) fascinating to watch. Mirren reacts to the events that transpire the same way that Elizabeth did, leading me to believe she did some extensive research on her own to play the part. (Of course she did, she's Dame Helen Mirren!) Mirren is not afraid to exhibit the darker, more erratic side of Elizabeth's character, yet she still managed to create an  endearing portrayal of the queen.

This miniseries won 2 BAFTA's, 11 Emmy's, 3 Golden Globes, 2 SAG awards, and 1 RTS.

Mirren and Irons smolder as Elizabeth and Leicester. They perfectly convey the easy intimacy and trust that the two friends shared.
#3 Pick
The Virgin Queen
2005 TV Miniseries
4 Episodes, 237 Minutes
Starring Anne-Marie Duff as Elizabeth, and Tom Hardy as Robert Dudley

Anne-Marie Duff portraying the young queen. I wish more people had seen this version in the US. Oh, and I want to steal the ruff she is wearing here!
As you can see, this miniseries came out the same year as Elizabeth I, and was not promoted well, particularly in America. This was a shame, seeing as both of the miniseries were approaching Elizabeth's life from a very different angle. While the Mirren miniseries chronicled the end of Elizabeth's reign, The Virgin Queen, like Elizabeth R before it, covers her reign in its entirety.
The acting was good, but the miniseries did not allow enough time to cover as much as I wish it could had. And out of all the Tilbury speech's I have seen onscreen, I must say I personally thought Anne-Marie Duff's was the best! Oh, and Tom Hardy is a very appealing Dudley!
The costuming of this production was spectacular, as was the makeup and hair.

This miniseries won a BAFTA for costume design.

Duff as Elizabeth and Hardy as Leicester, her "Lieutenant General" on the road to the Tilbury encampment
#4 Pick
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
1970 BBC Miniseries
6 Episodes, 540 minutes
Starring Keith Michell as Henry VIII, Annette Crosby as Catherine of Aragon and Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn.

Michell was able to portray the full gamut of Henry's emotions convincingly.
What can I say, the BBC always gets it right! Done the year before Glenda Jackson's Elizabeth R, this critically acclaimed miniseries devotes one episode to Henry's relationship with each wife. Certain political events pertaining to each queen's time in Henry's life are included, but for the most part, this is a study in Henry's dynamic with each unique wife. I have never seen a better Henry than Keith Michell, balancing his gluttony and his greed with the romantic and sometimes tender aspects of his character. So often, I believe Henry is portrayed as a one-note king, played only as cruel or only as lustful, but Micell fleshes out (pun intended!) Henry into a living, breathing human. Michell looks and sounds the part in every way.

This miniseries won 5 BAFTA's, 2 of which  for Keith Michell and Annette Crosbie.
It also won 1 Emmy.

Dame Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn. She and actress Natalie Dormer, who also played Anne, look a lot alike, don't they? (See Below)

Natalie Dormer paid an amazing Anne Boleyn, but I do not recommend The Tudors series as a whole, as every episode is laden with inaccuracies, fictional characters, and two historical characters combined as one. If only Ms. Dormer could have been featured in another, more accurate production!
 She has remained dedicated to Anne by helping to save her portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.
 Come back soon for a list of movies you should avoid like the plague. Also watch the "Recommended Books" page for my literary picks, both non-fiction and fiction!