Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Man for All Seasons (1966)

"Silence is golden...."
Nominees: "Alfie" "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming""The Sand Pebbles" "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

He Said: Go ask Alice... Call Alice

Oh my good god that was awful. This movie really needs cliff notes or at the least a warning to beef up on your British history before watching it. The only thing I can say is that if you like British history and this time period then you might maybe like this (don't blame me if I am wrong, you have been warned), but otherwise stay far far away from this drivel. 

When looking at the nominees and winners in various categories A Man for All Seasons really was THE movie of that year. If this is the best that this year had to offer what a horrible year to be a film fan, but I am sure there must have been something that was better than this. Sure some aspects of filming and costumes were good, some acting good but the main actor was more stoic in the character with not much emotion in his voice, making it kind of boring and not very interesting. Maybe that is how Sir Thomas Moore was, but no one will ever really know and I just put it down to boring acting.

Honestly I could not follow this movie and I really don't understand the nuance of what was going on, and for that reason I will leave the summary of the movie to be done by my better half. I would briefly summarize the film as being about King Henry VIII who wanted to divorce his wife as she seemed unable to produce a male heir, and marry another woman so as to produce an heir. Now the drama of it all is that this was not allowed by the church at the time, but Sir Thomas Moore was promoted to head of the church and the king continues to solicit him to change the church law. Moore refuses and is eventually thrown into jail. Then it devolves into a court case against Sir Thomas Moore, so if you are up on your 17th century British law this would be interesting, but I am sadly not. In the end as we know the king declares himself head of the church and changes church rules so as to do what he wants. So the movie is more about the struggle Sir Thomas Moore experiences by all his friends and family trying to push him to what the king wants, but he holds onto his moral ethics. Sound interesting yet? I didn't think so. And that is basically how the movie runs. Honestly I don't think there really was any redeeming quality of this movie and the Academy must certainly have been wrong with this choice.

 Next up: Terms of Endearment; a movie I have never seen but certainly everyone knows the name and briefly what it is about. Here's hoping for a good one, nothing could be as bad as A Man for All Seasons...

Note: Edited details of Henry's first wife Catherine. Erroneously wrote she was sterile, when she actually became pregnant multiple times and gave birth to a girl, although she did suffer multiple miscarriages and never did produce a male heir for Henry, thus the divorce.

She Said: A Yawn for All Seasons.

So apparently I get to give a plot summary for this movie. Luckily for me, it's mostly based on history. I considered just sticking a link here where you could read all about it yourself, but I'd rather add color commentary, so here we go:

So there's this King who wants to have a baby: Henry the 8th -- Maybe you've heard of him? Seems he was married to his brother's widow, but since she couldn't give him the all important heir, he wants to marry Anne Boleyn. The problem?? DUH!!! He's MARRIED. And Catholic, hence no divorce. Being a theologically bent man, not to mention horny, he turns to the Bible and decides that the Pope never should've blessed his unholy marriage to Catherine and wants an annulment. The Pope says no, and Thomas More, the Lord Chancellor of England, agrees. End of story, right?


Despite eventually declaring himself "The Supreme Head of the Church In England" (and thus capable of doing whatever he pleases, Pope-be-damned), King Henry is determined that Thomas should bless his marriage. So are all the other political members of the court, which makes life very uncomfortable for Thomas, a Man With Morals. A scorned scholar begins to spy on More, who chooses to step down as Chancellor rather than agree to the King's new title. When More fails to show up at the King's wedding, Henry demands that everyone take an oath on the validity of the new marriage, under threat of High Treason. But of course, More won't, because a) that would be wrong; and b) the movie would end too soon. Rather than risk his neck and the neck of his family, More decides to Plead the Fifth and say nothing, but in the end is locked in the Tower of London, betrayed by the scorned scholar, and gets his head chopped off. As does Anne Boleyn in a few short years, but that's another movie.

This movie, though, is not really about the history of Thomas More, but about one man's decision to stand by his morals.... that, and perhaps the power of silence. While I followed the details of the movie better than my hubby (obviously, since I'm writing the plot summary for a change), I simply didn't care about Thomas More's struggle. I was interested in learning more about all the political intrigue, but I don't think that's the point of the movie. In a more intimate setting such as a theatre (it was originally a play), I may have felt more involved and invested in his predicament, but instead I felt like I was being told to "ADMIRE THIS MAN" rather than actually being given a chance to do so.

The Verdict: The Academy was wrong.

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