I also enjoy historical movies and today I want to review a BBC min-series on the life of King Henry VIII of England.
The movie I want to review today is Henry VIII. It was not a theatrical movie it was two-part British television serial produced principally by Granada Television for ITV in 2003. The movie chronicles the life of Henry VIII of England from the collapse of his first marriage to his death following a stroke in 1547 and depicts his other marriages. In some ways this seems more like a remake of the 1970s BBC production of the Six Wives of Henry VIII.
The movie and subsequent DVD are divided into two parts. The fist part deals mainly with the ending of Henry’s marriage to Infanta Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Bolyn. The second part encompasses Henry’s other 4 marriages and for that reason the second part seems a little crammed and rushed. I would have liked to have seen the movie done in three parts with each part addressing two of the six marriages.
The main star of the movie is veteran British actor Ray Winstone as King Henry VIII and Helena Bonham Carter (herself the queen of period pieces) as the ill-fated Anne Boleyn. Part two stars Emily Blunt as Catherine Howard another of Henry VIII’s ill-fated queens. Actually, her pleas not to be executed are pretty heart wrenching.
I have read that there was controversy surrounding the casting and performance of Ray Winstone as the king. He is noted for playing many tough guy roles and people who are thugs and that his portrayal of the king was anything buy kingly and aristocratic. I can have empathy for the critics on that point. Henry does not come across as particularly regal or aristocratic. However, that doesn’t really bother me too much even though I do acknowledge that point of view. What Ray does provide for the role is sense of power, authority and ruthlessness along with strength and selfish ambition. These are all qualities I can envision Henry VIII having.
I do enjoy the series even though it is a bit uneven. Part one being the better of the two if only for the presence Helena Bonham Carter and the chemistry between her and Ray.Carter does a great job of bringing Anne Boleyn to life. She is depicted not only as a person who was grabbing power for herself she is also depicted as a victim of a system that literally killed if one did not produce results. As I mentioned above part two just seems too rushed for my tastes. I do think that Emily Blunt does a very good job depicting the young Catherine Howard but since she seems to be only window dressing around which the plot unfolds she is not given the opportunity to flesh out her character. If they had devoted more time to that marriage I think Emily Blunt would have shined even more.
Despite of those flaws I mentioned I do enjoy the two part movie a great deal. Henry VIII is a great study. I would not say I admire him because I think he was a blood thirsty tyrant in many ways. He is a good study on the abuse of power and the role of monarchy in the 16th century. I will close this review with my disclaimer. Do not get your history lesson from a movie. Let a movie give you the sense of how things looked and felt during the time period, let it come alive through costumes and setting and let the movie be a spring board to searching out and understanding the real events. Sorry, don’t mean to sound too preachy.
Posted on October 24, 2012, in Movie Recomendation and tagged Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth I of England, Emily Blunt, Helena Bonham Carter, King Henry VIII of England, Mary Tudor, Ray Winstone, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Tudor. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.