Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)

PG   |    |  Drama


Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972) Poster

On his deathbed, King Henry VIII looks back over his eventful life and his six marriages.


7/10
697

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  • Lynne Frederick and Barbara Leigh-Hunt at an event for Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
  • Lynne Frederick at an event for Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
  • Jenny Bos and Keith Michell in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
  • Charlotte Rampling in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
  • Lynne Frederick and Keith Michell in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)
  • Charlotte Rampling in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)

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17 January 2015 | son_of_cheese_messiah
5
| Thumbnail sketch of a Tudor king
This is a film adaptation of the six part BBC TV series. I've unfortunately never seen the series but I know it is highly regarded, much more than this film version. The reason for the inferiority of this version is obvious: the original material is very compressed.

It is naturally very difficult to compress a life so colourful, and containing so much complex political and abstruse religious manoeuvring as Henry's in a 2 hour film. Events rush by so much that it requires a good working knowledge of the life of Henry VIII to be able to follow them. For example Henry's relationship with Thomas More is barely established (it comes down to one 30 second conversation) before Thomas is executed. Later, we suddenly see rebels kneeling before Henry, for some under explained reason, who he immediately betrays (this is the Pilgrimage of Grace, when northerners rebelled against the king's abandonment of the Roman rite). Nor is the fall of Thomas Cromwell properly explored among many other lacunae. I wonder what the uninitiated would make of these things? Bewilderment I guess.

The compressed nature of the film gives rise to much obvious expositional dialogue. Henry baldly states things rather than us subtly getting to know his thoughts through his actions. This violates the basic rule of drama "show not tell".

Because of this the scenes of Henry's later life, when a lot of the political and religious turmoil had died down, come off better. There is simply less to explain to the audience and most of the famous historical people (Woolsey, More, Cromwell) were dead. So the personal drama can be explored more fully. The scenes with Katherine Howard are probably the highlight of the film, even if the actress rather over-eggs her final monologue. The scene with the king weeping is especially moving.

I'm not sure if I could recommend this to a complete novice in Tudor history, it would be too confusing. But for those studying Henry's reign of general history buffs, it is moderately interesting.

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