Beneath the Surface

Tuesday 18th July. 10.00 AM A Stage, Shepperton Studios. Our last day filming with Cate, as the Queen takes a rare bath and uses the opportunity to discuss men with Bess.


Elizabeth was considered rather fastidious for her time, bathing more frequently (several times a year) than most. Generally at this period bathing was still considered to be a dangerous pastime which weakened the body and left it open to disease. Indeed bathing was even cited as a possible cause of her bout of smallpox, although we know now that that cannot have been the case.
But as this is Cates last day I should perhaps finish by breaking my usual rule and commenting on her Elizabeth. It is the rare privilege of a historian working in film to be able to not simply imagine the past but see it. Of course what we create on set is not history, we cannot go back there and can never reconstruct either the events in their entirety or know truly what it was to live then. But every generation has the right to look back in time and find the elements from then that resonate with now, and use them to tell a story. For each generation that story will be different as it says as much about the present as it does about the past. For me, seeing Cate on set each day has been being in the presence of Elizabeth, despite the lights and cameras and modern world impedimenta which conspire to break the spell. And if she is Elizabeth to me even when surrounded by the 21st century, Im sure she will be Elizabeth to the audience who see the finished film. An Elizabeth for a new generation, created in an uncertain present to tell a story from a dangerous past.
Justin

7 Responses to “Beneath the Surface”

  1. Cinda says:

    Beneath the Surface
    Considered to be a danger
    the body left open
    Indeed, even as a possible cause
    we know now
    Perhaps finish by breaking rule
    it is the rare privilege of working
    to be able to not simply imagine the past
    but see it
    What we create is back there
    and events in their entirety
    know truly
    what it was to live…then
    Find the elements
    then
    resonate with now
    Tell a story
    each story will be different
    it says about the present
    as it does about the past
    the presence
    the light…and world
    conspire to break the spell
    Even when surrounded by a new generation
    created in present
    tell a story
    …from a dangerous past

  2. putski says:

    You say it perfectly, Justin, and I can’t wait to be once again transported into the past by Cate, Shekhar, you and the crew. After months of reading this blog, it feels strange to know that this is Cate’s final day of filming. It must be bittersweet.
    But I must congratulate everyone, especially Shekhar, for finding an actor so worthy of the legend. I have to say I’m driven to this largely because of Cate’s powerful portrayal. I couldn’t have imagined The Golden Age without her.

  3. heather says:

    dear Justin
    thanks for an excellent update. your wry phrasing of the frequency of ER’s bathing is hilarious.
    love, heather

  4. Sir Walter Raleigh says:

    Hey Justin,
    I am curious where does this movie end, with the introduction of Robert Deveraux’s rise to favour after Raleighs fall? Is there an idea of a 3rd movie floating around that would include Cadiz, and the Essex rebellion, and the succession of James the 1st of England and 7th of Scottland?
    WR

  5. Judy Dragutsky says:

    Dear Justin,
    What direction does the movie take after Cate’s departure?
    Judy

  6. North says:

    Absolutely well written, Justin! You had me imagining Elizabeth, not only naked in flesh; but, of heart….
    Cinda, awesome poem!! I’ve known you many years, and still… you never cease to amaze me with your skills.
    All my best wish’s to Shekhar/Family & cast and crew…and to you as well Justin… as you keep us right in the shadowy ebs of Elizabeth’s inner goings and partings, onset!
    Sir Walter, re: post #4-now, wouldn’t that be a grande manifest? I love historical accounts…
    Anyone familiar with Ama Biron and/or Sir Luis de Fleury? (ancestors)
    North

  7. Justin says:

    Judy – Cate appears right to the end of the movie in terms of the narrative, it’s just that we’ve filmed all her scenes, just leaving the action sequences aboard ship until last.
    WR – I couldn’t possibly comment on an ‘Elizabeth III’ – we’ll have to see how this one does. There is narrative room however…..
    And thank you Cinda for another wonderful poem – indeed thank you all for your kind comments. I hope we live up to your expectations.

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