Elizabeth (1998) is a fictional portrayal of the early years of the reign of England’s Queen Elizabeth I. In this opening scene, we see three imprisoned Protestant “heretics” praying frantically as their heads are violently shaved by guards. They are victims of the Marian Reformation, in which Queen Mary I, also known as “Bloody Mary,” attempted to revert a Protestant England to Roman Catholicism. The Protestants are marched through an angry crowd, and a Catholic priest reads the Royal decree that sentences the accused to burn at the stake–and burn in hell for all eternity.
Why are the Protestants referred to as “heretics”? Why are they sentenced to die?
Describe how the camera angles function in these scenes? How do they help convey a particular tone or point of view?
What is the connection between religion and politics? Why is religion so important in England at this time?
Where do we see religious persecution (or even intolerance) happening in similar ways today? How is this similar or different to what we see in the film?