Once when I was discussing the film with Cate Blanchett I showed her a DVD that I, along with some really great artists, had created. I was looking to see if I could create a visual script rather than a written script. . I love music and visuals in a film and feel that a film needs as minimum dialoge as possible. Looking back on films of mine that have succeeded, I notice that in those I never struggled with long pages of dialogue. Anyway Cate Blanchett saw the Budha DVD and immedietly said ‘ U are trying to tell the story of Buddha through Elizabeth !! ….
She was the only one that got it. For the rest of the film we continued discussing how an actor could potray becoming Divine. The only way I could help her was to talk about an inner stillness. Talk about the dispelling of doubt. The becoming one with the elemental forces. But mostly saying that Divinity will always be a question, an inner feeling and never a finite expression.
Why did I go that way ? Because why make a film unless the ideas expressed your inner conflicts ? And the conflict between the search for Divinty through the haze and maze of human desire is recurrent theme in my life, as should be obvious to all of you that are regular readers on this blog. And I am sure in all your lives too.
History ? My producer, my writers, my researcher are all historians with top honours either from Cambridge or Oxford. They dominated the script. Surely the film cannot have gone that far away from history ?????
31 thoughts on “Golden Age/Divinity/History/Desire”
I think I for sure does not ‘search for Divinty’ as for me does not exist. Human beings are left to themselves in this world alone till the sun survives
with the endless desire for something more than what really exists.
slow, bit boring beginning 30 min and predictable script was the first point.
# second point and i feel the most important point for me was MUSIC!
i had read in some of the reviews that music is too loud and deafening and all…
Yes those reviewers are right…
MUSIC is too much…too harsh…and too much…
there is no SOUND DESIGNING AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!
in the beginning in few scenes it runs without taking notice of the mood of the scene like a TV serial…
then almost 25 to 30 times it reaches to crescendo…! i felt that you have treated each scene as a whole film and designed the sound and music…there is no sound designing and music designing keeping in mind the whole length of the film…this makes it jarring…irritating at times…
the whole MUSIC designing is very childish…UNDERLINING everything with music is not at all necessary…
Philip’s entry- DHANGGGGGG… Elizabeth’s entry- DHANGGGG… Walter’s entry- DHANGGGGGGGG…
Elizabeth LIKES walter, he presents her some pirated gifts- DHANGGGGG…
Sir Francis notices this- DHANGGGGG
Elizabeth(abbie) likes Walter- DHANGGGG
In each and every scene, music concludes!
Elizabeth and Walter are sitting near fire place…They kiss…the moment they kiss, TANA TING TINGGGGGGGGG… music starts!!!!!!!!!!
rather let them kiss…when she keeps her head in his lap there it should have started…that too very soft and gentle…etc.
# and then there is no AMAZING TUNE!…i dont know much about music…but our music is melody based and their music is harmony based…but in both kind of music there are GREAT TUNES… there should have been ONE great Tune if music is such an important part of the film…
e.g. i can still recall tunes of ‘Chariot’s fire’, ‘Hidden dragon…’, ‘natural born killers’. ‘ good bad ugly’ , ‘ for a few dollars more’… many more…etc.
Now what ever compositions are there in the film must be good…and if i will sit and listen to them like classical music, i might find tune and all..also the greatness of those compositions…but then i would buy (or pirate) Yanni for that…
if i am watching a film for the first time and even then i wait for that theme tune to come again…i am sure that its a great tune and must be good composition too…
So OK back ground score and bad SOUND DESIGNING was the second point which was creating that uneasy feeling…
and as i said this is the main point…
50% impact of the film reduces because of Wrong Sound Designing and back ground score…
# in spite of these two major points… THE FILM STAYED WITH ME… it really did… it is completely an HONEST effort and it shows on the screen…some of the scenes are so beautifully written , treated and acted out… esp… the scene- Cate when comes to know that Abbie is pregnant, she loses her balance and hit Abbie.
Then when Clive Owen applies to get a permission to go away for 3-4 years…She makes him captain and asks him to kneel down…
like this THE WHOLE FILM stayed with me…with many good points…
Hey and the HORSE jumping out of the ship was the visual peak point for me…
in spite of being physically fragile person, Philip appears very dangerous and deadly !
many little things which i liked and didnt like…but in all IT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE!
Why do I sense a hint of defensiveness here? As a film maker, the only way you are different from a ‘historian’ per se is your medium…. your perception of Elizabeth or your perspective on the events is as valid as the ‘authoritative’ voices of the other historians! What your portrayal of history has is the freshness of one human being telling the story of another…. your Elizabeth comes alive not just as a screen presence, but as a living, feeling woman with all her quirks and greatness. The Divinity that you feel compelled to share is an emotion so palpable, so alive in your films that it transcends Elizabeth, transcends Cate … it is THERE as the ultimate truth….
hahaha where is the first part of my comment?
funny… wait…i have SAVED it on word!
Finally i saw it…it was an amazing experience…
2 days back i got very good pirated version…but i waited and went to Cinema hall to watch it…
there are so many good points but there are two major bad points for me…
Main good point is that THE FILM STAYED WITH ME EVEN AFTER COMING OUT OF THE THEATER.
Main bad point is that I DIDNT WANT IT STAY WITH ME.
why? because something was wrong with it.
very simplified story line,good pace after a point, amazing acting, amazing sets and costumes
,in spite of so many good things why was there uneasy feeling about the whole thing?
and when i recalled the whole film again i noticed TWO MAIN things didnt work for me-
# Beginning 20 to 30 min. So many scenes are unnecessarily stretched.
Clive Owen’s entry was so disappointing…’a small puddle Madam’
WHY??????????? the same scene is there in Shakespear in love… you could have avoided it…and thought of something new!
And in the beginning QUEEN appears very CARELESS where actually the intention is to show her Human Side…but in some of the beginning scenes she goes overboard…but slowly her character becomes more and more defined and clear and dignified…
# screenplay is very much predictable. there is no flaw but first half or say First act is extremely boring…
there is no innovativeness in the whole flow.
e.g. Queen’s cousin’s execution scene- there is a screenplay and there is a treatment of the director…so it is innovative scene for me. clinched but innovative…we have seen guillotine scenes so many times but the way this scene comes and goes and is treated makes it special one. this doesn’t happen with the whole film… there is hardly any innovativeness in the whole composition of screenplay- start to end…a whole! the directorial treatment though is beautiful.
(i will post another comment…its getting to long i guess…sorry)
Just saw you on NDTV yesterday. As usual, you came across as defensive and arrogant. Or is it just that you feel inferior, so you have to put down “the West” and Hollywood? You should do your work and let others do theirs. People other than those in your culture are not merely “white faces in suits” as you put it. That is really rude. If you are not happy in London or outside India, PLEEEEZ stay in India, and do everyone a favour.
I don’t know why your bigotry is tolerated on a public medium like NDTV. If a “white-faced person in a suit” said this in the media ANYWHERE in your despised “West”, the public would make an outcry.
Well, just another incidence of the inferior “West”‘s tolerance, and level of civilization.
Bite that, Shekar
Sir, yesturday i spoke to you in the seminar hall , film bazzar. Thanks for suggesting to interact via your web. I would love to speak on sp many sub jects thank u
Hope you are doing well and Goa is treating you great. Just saw you Sat night on the telecast of the ‘big fight’ on NDTV and really enjoyed it. During the last two months I have moved from NYC to Mumbai. Well, someone offered me a job in India at about 60% of my USD salary, so I said, why not? I still haven’t seen the film as I have been traveling for 2 weeks, but will see it as soon as I find it in a theater anywhere.
I hope you are enjoying the IFFI this year. What do you think we can do to make make Goa an event like Cannes?
Himanshu – Mumbai
what ever you are saying here in this blog entry completely shows on the screen…
It not a film about Elizabeth… it is a film which you wanted to make… it is Shekhar’s film and Cate has given full justice to your vision…
and by choosing Elizabeth you have taken a WISE decision…its MEET JOE BLACK dialog-
Anthony Hopkins asks Brad pitt ‘ Why me? why you chose me?’
Brad(DEATH) – ‘ because you have created a FIRST RATE life style for yourself which very few people have…i respect your command to give orders…only through you i could have known what i wanted to know about LIFE’
like that here, ELIZABETH is a queen…all materialistic gains are lying at her feet…what happens to such person when she has to face HUMAN inside her? for everyone else there remains some escape point in terms of ‘ that is remained to achieve…i still dont have that…i still desire for that thing etc.’
QUEEN can’t complain like a common man…she already has everything…then what happens?
i woudn’t be surprised if you will get OSCAR this year…actually you should…!!! and CATE for sure!…
but for me the hitch is ‘predictable screenplay and bad sound designing’…i wish that jury would over look these points…! after all no one can make a PERFECT film…!
“History ? My producer, my writers, my researcher are all historians with top honours either from Cambridge or Oxford. They dominated the script. Surely the film cannot have gone that far away from history ?????”
Mmmmm, so maybe this is why the dialogues were silly sometimes? What do historians with top honours know about drama? If they dominated the script, you should have dominated them. The script was the film’s weak point, imho.
There is such high quality in the visuals and acting most of the time, that both Elizabeth films you made are very convincing. Brits who take their history very seriously would fight that. Elizabeth was a turning-point figure in Britain’s sense of self-worth.
Personally, I don’t care about the history as much as I do about the character. Elizabeth I’s inner conflict would have been how to balance her humanity and her societal/cultural status as a semi-divine being. Both films dealt with this issue with great understanding.
Waiting for the third Elizabeth…
Don’t let those suits put you off. So far, no one else has been able to integrate the richness and drama of Indian storytelling and performance traditions with the seriousness and irony of modern western performing approaches. I’m pulling words out of an invisible hat trying to make a point, and the words aren’t right. India is about incredible layers and depths and colors and emotions and patterns. The west is about spareness, dryness, holding back, irony, cynicism. Both traditions are valuable and have something to say to and about the human psyche. It’s to your credit (big time) that you integrate these so damned well in your Elizabeth films. Don’t let anyone dominate anything you make except you. Don’t fall in love with anything or anyone more than you love the art you make on film.
Just wanted to bring to your notice what multiplexes are doing so that we, your fans, are unable to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age. This post might seem irrelevant to the current discussion but there was no other way to contact you.
On the 24th of November, 2007 my daughter and I went to see the movie at PVR Mulund, one day after it was released in Mumbai. The show timing was 10:35am as stated in the papers and we were a mere 4 minutes late. When we reached the counter we were told the show had been cancelled since we were the only ones who had arrived. However, we saw another lady at the next counter asking for 2 tickets for the same show. Four were present (that we know of), but it seems the decision to cancel the show was taken much earlier. We took the trouble meeting the Supervisors but were told that the show was cancelled because there wasn’t 10% occupancy! You must realize that when we come for the movie we have no idea how many have bought the tickets and therefore it came to us as a rude shock that the multiplex arbitrarily makes this decision. When we left the theatre, we saw another gentleman arguing just like we did about the cancellation.
We travel distances in Mumbai to see a movie and we rearrange our day so that we can see the movie. We are PAYING to see the movie so the multiplex is not doing us any favor by screening it. We also have no way of knowing that others have not shown up for the movie.
I understand that at PVR Mulund the decision to NOT screen the show was perhaps taken BEFORE the show time and people were asked to go away and EACH was told that THEY were the ONLY ones who had come to see the movie which was clearly not true.
As a policy to be fair to the viewers (and the multiplex) I do think a window period of 15 minutes after the show time should be provided before canceling the show. As you know, one can be a few minutes late in Mumbai…. all you have to do is miss a traffic light.
This letter has been written because we were truly upset that we could not see the movie and because one needs to be fair to the viewers who come to theatres.
I do hope that in your busy schedule you have time to address this matter in a positive way and in a way that will benefit all the viewers who go through similar cancellations.
Unfortunately, we still haven’t been able to catch the movie.
with regards, sona
welcome back to india Himanshu ! We need the best talents here to take our nation forward to the next step.
Sona : I have sent a copy of ur note to Universal Studios but I doubt that they will care. The callousness with which they released the film is astounding.
Ms Bee : Sorry if i hurt ur feelings. I am more upset that people in India still have not let go the burden of colonization. We still believe that somehow the white man got it right. And I am afraid having worked in Hollywood I do find that there is much to be admired in the way films are made in India. Hollywood had it’s hey day – but now has very little to offer to the world.
Arrogance ? I am sorry but I still have to come to terms with centuries of arrogance and colonization by the western nations. You just have to look at what the ‘white races ‘ did in Africa and in Asia. You may not be told this in your history books but even the industrial revolution in England was financed by the blood and sweat of the colonized nations that were left completely impoverished in the process. In particular by getting a whole nation (China) addicted to opium.
I really do not buy the idea of ‘the west’s tolerance’ as you say it. All this about being politically correct is just a facade when the west continues to bomb and massacre hundreds and thousands of civilians in iraq. I doubt they would done so if the were ‘white’.
finally – I do not live in London. I am there only to do a film.
I believe The Golden Age is successful precisely because the film swiftly manoeuvres us into concentrating on Elizabeth’s journey within, and her attempt to connect with her own divinity. In terms of telling the story of the Buddha through Elizabeth, I feel the characters and events happening around her symbolise the turbulent and uncertain periods during mediation before stillness is attained.
In the first film we’d seen Elizabeth fighting to establish her legitimacy to the most coveted throne in Christendom, and by overcoming the various plots that undermined her heirdom, she demonstrated that she was indeed her father’s daughter, and supremely fit to be queen of England.
At the start of The Golden Age we find a mature queen, comfortable in her role as monarch within a thriving kingdom. Yet as the film progresses the arresting concern becomes, what is the next frontier for someone who seemingly has everything? After all, neither owning the Crown-Jewels, nor having the military might to defeat errant nations will necessarily guarantee seamless entry into the kingdom of heaven.
The great battle of film (The Spanish Armarda) therefore represents Elizabeth’s own struggle with her ego, for the ego is the great wall that separates one’s humanity from one’s divinity.
The image of Elizabeth resplendent in her armour, riding majestically upon her white horse with her flame-red hair billowing wildly in the wind, is perhaps one the most beautiful images I have seen captured on film. This is the moment in the film when the human and the divine merge. Continuing with the Buddha theme, it also seems to me the moment at which East meets West.
In Christianity representations of the Sacred Feminine are solely bound to the Virgin Mary and all depictions that fall outside of this parameter are considered pagan at best, and sacrilegious at worst. To me, the stunning image of Elizabeth on horseback is more akin to the Hindu goddess Kali; at once awesome, powerful, intimidating, and sexual, and yet totally uncompromisingly divine.
Congratulations on such a fantastic film.
All best wishes,
Hi! Shekhar well said!
It would have been nice if you left her second comment online too (Ms Bee). We should not give selective insight….anyways you have your right of choice!
I was only struck where civilization was mentioned, have nothing against any particular nation, we all have our set of flaws.
If the issue of civilization has arised, what shekhar has mentioned is something to really understand, but the more we peel garlic the more it stinks, we need to look ahead, thats called civilization!!!
I also blame the indian mentality which has not been able to rise above, The british left behind enough blunders, which we ourselves have not been able to redefine, we are the weak ones here, the blame does not lie with the west alone, what was done is history but not much has been revised…
The labourers in tea estates in India, were put in the habit of alchohol, they got so addicted because after work they were provided very cheap drinks, and children too became a part of it easily,(generations involved, a vicious cycle) hence there was no escape but work n drink…work to drink…”Cheap Labour” The method never really changed, shame on us Indians for this.
The missionaries in India(where ever) Brilliant, hats off to civilization, but on what grounds? Change into christianity!! cant civilization rise above? I remember an incident in a small indian village, one child was playing alone near the road, and i could hear children being taught in a school nearby…when questioned he said…They insisted me to change into christianity, why do i have to change to get education? That is from a mind of an uncivilised child huh!!!
The so called first world countries, crying regarding environment>>> at the same time disposing their second hand junk down to weaker countries (cars, machinary etc), making money while disposing their rubbish!! Rise above and then talk of civilisation. Seen the state in Nepal? The feilds have become junkyards from the rubbish the so called first world sends across…..Talk of civilisation?
I forget dates, but must mention this, a certain sport event was held in germany (Or) some place two years back, and the advts were>>>>prostitutes, from the all over the world and the best part is no using condoms!!! Brothels were specially built around the stadium!!!WOW talk of civilisation!!!! talk of spreading diseases, mental and physical trauma, not forgetting so much beyond!!! AHHH! CIVILIZATION!!!!
Olympics in China? On what grounds? Business alone? Growth on dead bodies and homeless? growth on the weak? is that called civilization? “POWER” is in bringing peace not “WaR” of many orders!!!
One way muslims are termed as terrorists, the entrance for them in the USA or other countries are/were made tight, you make a mess of their very countries, and then at the same time invite>>>
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Invitation because they have money to invest in the so called first world countries? Dont you think terrorists can walk into your country,per invitation now? LOL!!
Either I am uneducated or I would wish there was no education if this was to be the result of education!!!
Please lets wake up…
The Intense depth “civilization” just cannot be used, without making sense!!!
Another latest example>>>
A teacher in sudan to be whipped or to go behind bars, for naming a teddy Mohammed!!
Where and why does this petty sensitivity start?
Golden Age… Divinity… History… Desire
I didnt grow up watching ur movies, but did hear reviews and opinions of some of them (particularly Gawahi and Masoom) from my mother…. that’s where I became a Shekhar Kapur fan.
Now, when I read your blogs, sometimes they make me slightly curious…. in a way u hv reached an epitome that u urself had desired and created… hv felt & experienced the mildest and the most passionate of highs and lows…. and still have many more miles to go… creating a divinty??? something like ‘Meri awaz he parda hai mere chehre ka… Main khamosh hoon jahan mujhe wahan se suniye’
Anyway, I watched Elizabeth and admired the way you handled it… mind, heart and soul.
I believe, movies are simply well made or badly assembled…. There’s nothing more that can define an art… what it invokes, educates, communicates…. let the viewer alone decide, apart from its artistic element.
For the Golden Age, I am waiting for its DVD in the Indian market… Bt before that I am curious to knw… would it end up with something like ‘Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures’?
Instead of doing a Golden Age about Elizabeth – The Virgin Queen which has been done to death by innumerable filmakers before you, how about a movie about the little known Rani Rudramma Devi of the Kakatiya dynasty. She too was a woman who had to face amazing challenges and came out a winner. It would be interesting to see the kind of research you would put into a story like this.
Shekhar, I’ve never seen colonial hangover. Where do you see it specifically? I see non-westerners shine given half their chance. And people of all colours achieving a lot inspite of their struggles, they are a source of strength and inspiration!
Do you have any idea and a financer to back the project on Rani Rudramma Devi of the Kakatiya Dynasty?
You can only glorify the history with power and money. How about a movie about my local sabziwala, who lost his limbs in the freedom struggle in 1947 and now he has to sell sabzi on the streets at the age of 78 to survive.
There are innumerous stories to be told, but always only those stories are being told in the history of this world which have the backing of money and power.
We live in 2 parallel worlds at the same time, one is in stories and the other one is real.
no one would put money into a project of Rani of Kakatiya( sounds of kakatiya is cute, reminds me of a stupid friend of mine…)…because the project would demand high budget and market is not there…
but about the sabziwala…yes…any one would put in money if the story is good…there is always a market for common man’s story…! only thing is that it would be hard to find a producer for such simple stories…one out of ten would take a chance…!
Hi Shekhar ji,
Thank you for the two minutes in the darkness of Inox(Goa) that you gave me out of your life for the time being. I must like to add what I missed in the totality of my expression that day – that you may-not be the best Director in the world, but definitely amongst the best human being evolving in the film-making world. And I presume that you yet have to make a film on a subject that fulfills your intrinsic desire and makes you a realized divine being and the best film-maker on the planet at the same time.
Hope this parallel search of divinity gets us the world within and around. Wish you good, always!
Saw you and Suchitra last Sunday in Times of India Life magazine and read the thought provoking spiritual point of view on relationships it represented. Only you could provoke writers to take up such a viewpoint, setting up wonderful benchmarks for the world. Wishing you both a great life, from me and my soulmate sonu(prabhjit dhamija). Its been long we have been hearing about Budhdha…when r u making it…take sonu in it:-) he will be more than glad to help you out with some great insights from an obtuse angle. I also look forward to see Golden age to see what it actually contains, though it surely will be well made. love, sheetal
“And the conflict between the search for Divinty through the haze and maze of human desire is a recurrent theme in my life”
Is not human desire the lodestar within one that points the way to the Self?
Think a moment. Any time you know what you want is the moment you are completely in tune with your self. Squish the ‘want’ and you are off on a wild goose chase, on all possible paths away from the Self. Pursue a path that allows the fulfilment of the ‘want’ and soon as this want is quenched, you are onto your next ‘want’.
I do think a ‘want’ or desire does so represent the need of a particular experience at the soul level of each one of us.
So you see in my opinion ‘human desire’ has a truly divine role to play – to point the way to the divinity within each human being
Thus spake a true-blue blooded hedonist!!
But truly I do mean all of the above!
I am extremely happy to see Cate Blanchett’s nomination for Gloden Age. The other reason you should be proud of her is for making history with nomination in best actor female and best supporting actor female categories in the same year. I am sure the oscar nominees announcement just made your day.
I have to admit that i watched Elizabeth Golden Age and this made me watch the first one as well.
Excellent, strong and powerful through both music and imagery. Cate Blanchett really made everything work and the rest of the cast just seemed so real, so perfectly chosen.
and thank you for creating such a beauty
Congrats on Elizabeth: The Golden Age winning the Academy Award for Best Costume Design!
I just saw the movie yesterday on DVD, and though part 1 was entertaining with a lot more content, this was an excellent movie..however, Cate’s character seemed extremely ordinary until the very end, and that didn’t flow from the first part where she is supposed to have undergone a deep change away from personal dramatics..well maybe that is how it was đź™‚
I just watched the two Elizabeths one after the other. WOW! But I’ll only talk about the second one.
What a masterpiece! The character, especially in this one, is amazingly complicated. I’d say she is among some of the best characters ever created, like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III and Tom Reagan in Miller’s Crossing. The film is very existential. When one watches both, one understands that you have created a world. You have gone beyond history to create a saga and a world in itself.
Would you let me interview you by email please? I work for a very small newspaper in a very small Breton island, but I’d really appreciate it.
I would like to say I’ve been a big fan of yours and Elizabeth the 1st since 1998.I nearly can not remember the exact number of my watching the movies, even can remember the dialogues in order…I’ve just wanted to thank you for making such a movie and also inform you about an issue…In the movie Golden Age, Elizabeth says Turkey? Turkey has a sultan..Historically this was impossible, cause at that time, Ottoman Empire was present.Turkish Republic was founded in 1923..Then these lands were called as Turkey..Apart from this, I think ‘Golden Age’ is marvellous.
In the end, Congratulations for all… and good luck for the future plans…
Dear Mr. Kapur,
I live in London, and was watching your film ‘ Elizabeth the golden age ‘ with admiration last night. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Most particularly I appreciate your passion for British Tudor History.
I myself am very much interested in Tudor history, and am participating in a ghost tour at Hampton court palace this March!!
There is an unsolved mystery in the Elizabethan period, which I am most certain you are aware of. During the reign of Elizabeth 1, there was an affair developing between the queen and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester with rumours of a possible marriage between them. But the earl had a wife Amy Robsart the daughter of a Norfolk squire who was habitating at Cumnor Place, three miles away from Oxford.
On Sunday the 8th of September 1560, Amy Robsart was suddenly and mysteriously found dead at the foot of the staircase. She was all alone, having sent all her servants to nearby Abingdon fair.
This incident was first brushed off as an accident and that there were no presumptions of evil, but very recent research proved that there were head injuries!
This makes compulsive reading. The more I delve into it, the more intriguing this chapter gets.
It would be brilliant if you could please make a movie of this interesting and unsolved tudor chapter. As for myself, I could help you provide with more information.
Wishing you a very happy 2011.
i had referred to Amy Robsart in the first Elizabeth in dialogue by Norfolk accusing Dudley of betrayal to the Queen in an open court. And though we had shot a whole scene of her death, and the queen being told about it, the scenes ultimately did not make to the final cut of the film. Yes Amy’s death was a mystery with most of the suspicion falling on Dudley himself as she was becoming an awkward presence in his affair with the Queen. But there were also rumors of Cecil’s involvement to embarrass Dudley. After all if you were close to Power, then you had many enemies.