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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Tudorian movies and shows

One of my few remaining blogging buddies Mystery Man of the Shadows has a post about a movie dealing with Henry VIII, and in  a round about way wonders why Hollywood has fixated so much on the time period. To me it's easy: sex, blood, sex, blood repeat often.
I wound up writing a longer comment than his post, which I know is a no-no, but it is my passion.

 Little did H8 know his desire to sire a son would so completely change the course of history. Think about it, no divorce England stays Catholic no King James Version of the Bible. He marries Jane Seymour after Catherine of Aragon dies and when his son Edward VI dies, he's followed by Mary without the Bloody prefix and when she dies without child, Mary Queen of Scots takes over the throne. James becomes King, but as a Catholic and without Puritan interference. See what I mean? No English Reformation, No Virgin Queen, No Spanish Armada, No English Civil War, No Glorious Revolution, No English Bill of Rights, No American Revolution, No Declaration of Independence or Constitution. A Catholic England might not have colonized America until too late to build up the empire it became. A good possibility we'd be speaking Dutch or French.

Here's a list of movies and books on the time period:
A great movie that bombed at the Oscars, eleven nominations and not one statue. Richard Burton got robbed. My favorite line: Anthony Quayle as Cardinal Wolsey: The seat of power does not reside between a woman's legs!
   A little over dramatic leading up to Anne's execution, but it does make the point Henry gave her the opportunity to leave England with Elizabeth, but she chose to die to secure her daughter's claim to the throne.

Paul Schofied at his best. So many good lines:

Will Roper: Arrest him (Richard Rich),
Moore: What law has he broken?
Roper: God's law.
Moore: Then God can arrest him.

Moore: I would give the Devil himself benefit of law for my own safety's sake

Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson as formidable adversaries. The sequel by Hal Wallace using the money he made off of Elvis movies, to Anne of the Thousand Days.

Some funny scenes and fantastic performances, but no lines really memorable. Main point was Elizabeth ruled with her head and May ruled with her heart.

BBC followed this with a mini-series with Glenda Jackson called Elizabeth R based on the book Elizabeth the Great by Elizabeth Jenkins.
I agree with Elizabeth Jenkins that Queen Liz was molested as a child and witnessed Katherine Howard being arrested kicking and screaming resulting in her beheading. Sex to her meant death and she would never let a man have that power over her. this series got it right, Elizabeth and Dudley are at a chapel with a priest and she backs out scared to death.
Recently there was another mini-series with Helen Mirren, much more graphic.
Kath Blanchet starred in two movies Elizabeth and Elizabeth the Golden Age that were credible, has the Virgin Queen have an affair with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester.

BBC had a mini-series on Masterpiece Theater names The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth. I've never seen it, maybe that needs to be corrected if its on Netflix.

TNT did a made for television version of Man For All Season's starring Charelton Heston that followed the play more closely. There are some notable additions not in the movie helping it make sense, but a few quips Schofield put in are left out
Shakespeare In Love is set in the time period of Elizabeth and Dame Judy Dench plays a great Queen Bess, but adds little to understanding the politics of the period,

Anonymous which came out a few years ago giving the Oxfordian theory of Edward De Vere being the real writer of Shakespeare's plays is interesting, but so far afield by claiming he was the illegitimate child of Dudley and Elizabeth as to ruin any credence in that theory.
Showtime's series of The Tudors was excellently done even if the actors were too thin for the time period. Like I said earlier lots of sex, blood, sex, blood, repeat often.

Good books on this time period:
Women's romance novels have had a field day in this time period. The most notable for me is My Enemy The Queen by Victoria Holt. A story told by the long suffering wife of Leicester and the mother of Exeter observing all the drama from the sidelines.
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George is both a well written fiction with great scholarship, what can sometimes be called fictionalized history because all characters are historical.
Naked to Mine Enemies by Charles Wright Ferguson, a definitive biography on Cardinal Wolsey. I found it a fascinating read, but then I love reading history and it's not everyone's cup of tea.

This is by no means a definitive list of movies or books on this time period just the ones I can think of right now.


Unknown said...

Forgive my absence, P.M. Moving is a pain and it's been all consuming. I found this post refreshing after walking out of the movie theater $10 poorer. There is an obsession (as evidenced by the Previews) with dark themes. The End of the Earth, the White House under siege, resorting to the afterlife, the underworld of the Mob in a violent 1920's, more metaphysical stuff to elicit nightmares. At least here, I saw movies with heart and soul! Amen!

P M Prescott said...

It seems that's now the realm of premium channels. Movies are as you say either romantic comedies, with very little comedy, as Groucho Marx said, "If you have to be dirty to be funny, you're not funny."
Or action/adventure where everything gets shot up or blown up.