The fascinating story of Elizabeth Montagu, the one-time heir to the Beaulieu estate, is being told in the new film The Honourable Rebel which is narrated by award-winning actress Diana Rigg. The film will be screened at 107 Odeon cinemas across the UK and Ireland, with morning and matinee screenings, from December 4 2015.
Born as the heir to the Beaulieu estate, Elizabeth was able to spread her wings when her half-brother Edward was born 17 years later, to take her place. She starred on London’s West End stage before studying music in Switzerland and travelling across Europe during the 1930s.
After driving an ambulance in France at the outbreak of war, she astonished her family by staying behind when the British evacuated. Her dramatic escape, being chased by the Gestapo, forms a gripping second act of the film.
She worked as a secret agent for the British Secret Service and helped de-brief a top Nazi double-agent involved in the plot to kill Hitler. Her life was a complex journey of drama, global escapades and sometimes life-threatening danger – and now Elizabeth Montagu’s story will reach a nationwide audience with a debut of The Honourable Rebel on the big screen in December.
The Honourable Rebel beautifully recounts the remarkable life of a woman who grew up at Palace House at Beaulieu in the New Forest but travelled the world before returning to her aristocratic home. After her death in 2002, her ashes were buried in the family plot at Beaulieu Abbey on the estate.
Director, Mike Fraser, shot most of the film on the Beaulieu Estate, taking viewers back to the start of Elizabeth’s extraordinary story. Diana Rigg, star of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Game of Thrones, narrates the film as the assured, reminiscent voice of Elizabeth, with Dorothea Myer-Bennett in the lead role.
The film follows Elizabeth’s life throughout the war years and her subsequent achievements as a dialogue director, working with Graham Greene on the popular movie The Third Man.
Beaulieu and music remained Elizabeth’s great loves and she served as an assistant to Toscanini, helped Walter Legge found the Philharmonia Orchestra and was a member of Benjamin Britten’s English Opera Group.
She married Colonel Arthur Varley after the death of her great love, the celebrated classical pianist Renata Borgatti. Elizabeth’s love of music features throughout the film, with Chopin’s G Ballade played by her friend Vladimir Horowitz and a soundtrack which includes Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner and Stravinkski.
Viewers can also enjoy black and white archive material that adds real life context throughout the film along with moving accounts from Elizabeth’s friends and her nephew, Ralph Montagu, who recently became the new Lord Montagu.