The story of Elizabeth's ascendency to the throne, the plot of the movie is full of palace intrigues, attempted assassinations and executions. The movie starts with England divided by faith, Protestant vs. Catholic. The queen, Mary Tudor has no heir and her Catholic supporters fear the succession of her half-sister Elizabeth, a Protestant. They convince the queen to have Elizabeth arrested and put in the Tower of London but the queen hesitates and eventually refuses to sign her death warrant. It is announced that the queen is pregnant but it turns out to be a tumor and she dies of it a while later. Her Catholic supporters are forced to give the throne to Elizabeth. Elizabeth's first few years are shaky as she is not versed with the art of realpolitik and "rules from the heart instead of the mind". There is also the question of her succession as she is yet unmarried and her death without heir would mean the throne falling back into Catholic hands. She has many suitors but she eventually rejects them all. And aided by Sir Francis Walsingham she manages to kill all her enemies and ascends the throne as the "Virgin Queen".
Cate Blanchett ... Elizabeth I
Geoffrey Rush ... Sir Francis Walsingham
Christopher Eccleston ... Duke of Norfolk
Joseph Fiennes ... Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Richard Attenborough ... Sir William Cecil