Not History

Golden Age, like Elizabeth, is an interpretation of historical characters and events to tell a story that hopefuly becomes relevant to our lives and times today..

it is not a ‘historical’ in that sense. I remember running into much criticism over historical liberties in Elizabeth, especially about her Virginity. In our interpretation of that film,’ Virginity’ was a political and cultural statement. Elizabeth ‘declared’ herself a Virgin. Denied her own feminity, in order to rule over men.
I also remember running afoul of some very respected US dailies. One even called it the MTV version Elizabeth, and secretly I took it has a complement. But in retrospect, and I say this with the greatest of respect for the standards of writing and critique in the US, I do feel that sometimes we film viewers and critics become victims of film Genre’.
So what has fascinated me most about this ‘interpretation of history’ in the Golden Age ?
That whatever we skim on the surface of the Elizabethan times, they were times of evaluation and re-evaluation of the understanding of the Elizabethan’s of themselves and of their relationship with the Universe they lived in. Some of the explorations very much in synch with the explorations we in the modern world are delving into. The exploring of the consciousness. Some even touching concepts of Buddhism.
The Elizabethans called it interconnectedness. The inter connectedness of all things.
They also believed in the Great Chain of Being. At the top of which stood God, and it went right down through human beings, to animals, plants to the lowest form of life. I shall introduce all of you to my researcher, Justin Pollard, who will write a very very lucid account of Elizabethan beliefs.
Elizabeth herself explored all this, but also beleived in the ‘Divine Right of Princes to rule’. That the right to rule was handed down to ‘princes’ by God. and so their acts could nto be questioned by ordinary humans.
So interestingly, there were three monarchs at that time, all of who disagreed, were in conflict with each other, but each believed that God had given THEM the right to rule.
Elizabeth, Phillip of Spain and Mary of Scotts. All of whom are characters in the film.
No wonder Elizabeth was so reluctant to execute Mary of Scotts. She believed that in doing so, she was interfering in God’s conferring of Divinity (even to Mary). For if Elizabeth died, God had given Mary the Divine right to rule as her next successor.
Elizabeth’s personal struggle with Divinity is an essential part of Golden Age, not so much Historical recounting of history books.
And all history is interpretation in any case. A point of view,

3 thoughts on “Not History

  1. In the recent PBS miniseries on Shakespeare, Michael Wood discovered in the archives that there were very particular documented facts that were kept by Walsingham’s spies. The early version of MI5. Shakespeare’s father in fact was under close scrutiny for his Catholic beliefs and subversive activities he was accused of acting out against the state. So in fact there are some actual historic details which give clear insight as to the state of mind that existed in Elizabeth’s day. But when making a film, or writing a story, about someone who clearly is larger than life, thus closer to God than ordinary mortals, it is important to cull from the history, what will both entertain us and re-educate us as to what went on back then. Many people want a literal interpretation of the facts. Shakespeare never gave us that. He gave us metaphorical, poetic drama which also challenged the precepts of the day. He risked his life doing this as it often was an in your face, this is the way I see it approach to drama. So do we want to see historic parallels in looking through the mirror of yesteryear? Absolutely. That way we can understand through fiction and history, that we are doomed to repeat ourselves if we do not understand the roads we (mankind)) have taken, and try to make something from that so we grow and change and become better human beings. I fear we have not changed, only technoligically so.

  2. yes…I’ve often wondered about the validity of anyone’s “view” of history – it’s all valid – eg the hovel dweller who lived in the shadow of the Taj Mahal as it was being built, and maybe helped build it – is it recorded ? – no…
    …goes back to my point about “making sense” of history – making sense as in a recogniseable “shape” to things, (just like an ink blot…) – but then I guess not everyone sees the same shape or the result is informed by certain prejudices or whatever might be foremost in the mind at the time…so what is true and is it all interpretation ?….

  3. I think it is important in this case to remember not to give primacy to any one truth. The wonderful thing about telling historical stories is that you have the ability to represent the past from any number of perspectives – all of which could have been equally valid and true. The problem with telling historical stories through the medium of film is that film projects stories as larger than life (wonderfully and magically so!) and people tend to regard them as THE TRUTH, rather than a subjectivce representation of a possible truth. It is the audiences’ responsibility to remeber this, not the artists’.
    I applaud anyone who brings to light alternative perspecitves on history, particularly those who do it through a medium that is accessible to a great many people. This is a necessary part of our understanding of ourselves, how we got to the place we are as a society – culturally, politically, religiously etc.
    In the Jewish tradition there is a place for re-telling and re-interpretation of history, both in the formal Talmud, as well as the more informal form of midrash, forming a sort of continual dialogue with history and our different interperetations of events throughout the centuries. It’s all about conversation.

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