Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Quiet Evening of TV and...

When I went over to England for the first time over a year ago, my parents and I stayed in a Mariott on the opposite side of York from the University. I remember turning on the TV the night after arrival before literally passing out due to the inevitable jet lag resulting from such a long trip. One channel covered the selection of a new leader for the "oppostion" party, the Tories, by vote; the later result being David Cameron. On another, I saw for the first time bits and pieces of a recently completed series, Elizabeth, about the latter stage of the Tudor queen's life starring Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons. At first, I compartmentalized it as "wow, these English folks really ARE obsessed with her reign." However, a few months later, I got to see the whole series for the first time from beginning to end when it re-aired. Apart from being well-acted and well-written, and, God forbid, well-researched, at least a portion of the focus struck me.

The first part centers on Elizabeth's relationship with Robert Dudley, and although there isn't much discussion on the matter between characters in such a way as to actively explain it, the acting between Mirren and Irons adds a third dimension that truly allows the viewer a new insight into that relationship in such a way as I have never seen in any other drama. The definition of this partnership ironically is colored by Elizabeth's decision to pursue a marriage with the Duke of Anjou. For perhaps the first time in her reign, she seriously considered the idea of marriage, and therefore, by extension, for the first time, Robert Dudley had to consider the idea of being without her primary affections and attentions. What she could not, because of circumstance, have with Robert Dudley, she realized she could have with the Duke and perhaps it was the first time she actually considered having it rather than continuing on without it entirely, or with it in a different form that wasn't entirely fulfilling for her with Dudley. If the English people had not objected to her marriage to the Duke, I wonder what decision she would have ultimately made for herself.

Gave me some food for thought, although I will leave my personal take on that subject to myself.

3 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I've read a great novel by Philippa Gregory called 'The Virgin's Lover'. It's all about Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley.

Gem said...

I can never quite make my mind up about Elizabeth and Dudley - although that relationship was undoubtedly pivotal, I think David Starkey had a point when he identified her very odd 'fling' with Thomas Seymour, the husband of her former stepmother Catherine Parr, as a key factor in her reluctance to marry.

The Seymour thing is very difficult to dramatise, although it was done successfully in the 70s BBC adaptation - the strong hint of what we would consider child abuse is distinctly offputting, as she was a teenager at the time. However, the resemblance between Seymour and the men Elizabeth always favoured (especially Essex) is striking - charming, quick to anger, and slightly stupid. Seymour would end up executed (not by Elizabeth), and there seems to have been some kind of association in her mind between 'bad boys' and sex from then on - and, given her prudence, a fear of the latter. The example provided by her father would have been enough to put anyone off for life :S. Leicester was probably the most obvious candidate for her hand, but I do think that Anjou would have been a fairly satisfactory husband, his controversial nationality notwithstanding.

ellesappelle said...

I wonder if we will ever find out more decisive facts about their relationship. As it is, it's very interesting to conjecture and wonder... Elizabeth I in herself is fascinating. I haven't seen that series but you've made me want to.