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Elizabeth is a 1998 British biographical film written by Michael Hirst, directed by Shekhar Kapur, and starring Cate Blanchett in the title role of Queen Elizabeth I of England, alongside Geoffrey Rush, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Fiennes, John Gielgud, Fanny Ardant and Richard Attenborough. The film is loosely based on the early years of Elizabeth's reign. Blanchett and Rush reprised their roles in the sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), covering the later part of her reign. The film brought Australian actress Blanchett to international attention. She won several awards for her portrayal of Elizabeth, notably a BAFTA and a Golden Globe in 1998. The film was named the 1998 BAFTA Award for Best British Film and was nominated for seven awards at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actress, winning Best Makeup. The film sees a young Elizabeth elevated to the throne on the death of her half-sister Mary I, who had imprisoned her. Elizabeth's reign over the divided and bankrupt realm is perceived as weak and under threat of invasion by France or Spain. For the future stability and security of the crown she is urged by advisor William Cecil (Attenborough) to marry; she has suitors in the Catholic Philip II of Spain and the French Henri, Duc d'Anjou. However, she instead embarks on an affair with the wholly unsuitable Robert Dudley (Fiennes). Elizabeth must counter threats from within, such as the powerful Thomas Howard, 4th Duke of Norfolk (Eccleston), and from the armies of Mary of Guise (Ardant) garrisoned in Scotland. She also faces plots from Rome directed by Pope Pius V (Gielgud). Assisted by her "spymaster" Francis Walsingham (Rush), she puts down the threats both internal and external, ruthlessly executing the plotters. Elizabeth eventually ends her and Robert's affair and resolves to marry nobody except England. The film ends with Elizabeth assuming the persona of the "Virgin Queen", and saying: "I am married to England," initiating England's Golden Age.
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