Jonathan Durrant recently gave a paper on “British Identity, Historical Film and the Iniquities of Old Enemies” at the symposium “Representing Conflict, Crisis and Nation” hosted by the AHRC-funded network Filming and Performing Renaissance History, Queen’s University, Belfast (19-21 September). Ranging across The Virgin Queen (1955), the BBC TV series Elizabeth R (1971) and Elizabeth (1998), he noted that while representations of Elizabeth have evolved to reflect modern concerns, portrayals of our long-time enemies have remained stereotypical and reflect badly on the English. The mincing, cross-dressing, licentious French characters in these productions, he argued, reflect an underlying Englishness which is exclusive to a narrow, mainly middle-class audience ambivalent about the world beyond its Anglo-American purview, despite the use of established foreign actors in, for example, Elizabeth and the lionizing of its director, Shekhar Kapur.
October 24, 2008
» British identity and historical film