Since the advent of cinematography there have been a number of films made on the life of the Virgin Queen.
The story of the unwanted girl who grew up to be one of the world's best loved monarchs continues to capture the
hearts and imaginations of every new generation. Her life was one of triumph and success, and yet behind the glory
there was loneliness and loss. The Queen's complicated, glittering, yet always inspiring, life, provides a wealth of
material from which writers and actors can draw, and the enigma that was Elizabeth means that no two portrayals of her
are ever the same.
The dramatic fascination with the life of Queen Elizabeth I began very soon after her death. Perhaps the first mention
of the Queen in a dramatic play was the christening of Princess Elizabeth in Shakespeare's Henry VIII. Over the
course of the next four centuries, Elizabeth continued to be dramatically represented in a number of works. Below are
some of the actresses who have played the great Queen over the last hundred years, some now legends themselves.
The first screen portrayal of the Tudor Queen was made by the legendary
Victorian actress Sarah Bernhardt in the silent film of 1912 known as either
The Loves of Queen Elizabeth or Queen Elizabeth.
This film tells the story of Queen
Elizabeth's relationship with Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.
It was originally a French production known as Elisabeth, Reine d'Angleterre,
and was the most successful film of Bernhardt's career.
Flora Robson starred as Queen Elizabeth in two films: Fire Over England (1937) and The
Sea Hawk (1940).
Fire Over England has an impressive cast. Laurence Olivier plays the film's hero, Michael Ingolby, who is sent
on a voyage to Spain, and Vivien Leigh plays a maid of honour. The story is fictitious but entertaining.
The Sea Hawk is also a fictitious tale. It tells the story of a gallant adventurer, Captain Geoffrey Thorpe,
who goes on a mission to destroy Spanish resources at Panama in the hope of delaying the Armada. It was adapted from the
book by Rafael Sabatini. An entertaining swashbuckler that has a strong cast including Errol Flynn and Claude Reins. The
film won 3 Oscar Nominations.