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The second of the six wives of Henry VIII and the mother of the future
queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn is a tragic footnote to the lives of
these two famous Tudor monarchs from English history.
"Anne of the Thousand Days" gives Anne Boleyn the belated respect she deserves due to the sparkling performance of the actress Geneviève Bujold. The screenplay draws upon the successful 1947 stage play by Maxwell Anderson, who also wrote plays on the lives of Elizabeth I and Mary of Scotland. But this is his most famous historical drama, and it is unfortunate that Anderson did not live to see this fine film adaptation.
The film covers major events and figures from the early Tudor age, including Henry's controversial divorce from Catherine of Aragon, the rise and fall of Cardinal Wolsey, the courageous ethical stance taken by Sir Thomas More in opposing the will of the king, and the unscrupulous Thomas Boleyn, who played the role of pimp and go-between in the trysts with his daughters and the king.
While the movie proceeds at a deliberate pace in recounting the various subplots, it is the figure of Anne Boleyn who ties together the different plot strands related to the king's "Great Matter." Bujold's multi-layered performance reveals an Anne Boleyn with heroic virtues and deep ethical concerns.
The film takes license with a non-historical scene where Anne confronts Henry after she has been convicted of treason, adultery, and incest and is imprisoned in the Tower of London. The deluded Henry has come to believe that he was "bewitched" by an enchanted Anne, and the scene in the Tower delivers a thundering dramatic climax to the film.
Bujold's performance is all the more remarkable as she is playing opposite one of the great actors of the previous century in Richard Burton. Not only does Bujold's Anne set Burton's Henry straight, but she takes a stand on matters of conscience from which we can still learn today. Geneviève Bujold and this dynamic scene in the Tower of London alone make "Anne of the Thousand Days" a classic.
A good movie for all Tudor fanatics. I can't really see anything wrong with it. It was historically accurate and well-acted. It's one of those movies you can watch till the end, without stopping the tape. It helps to do a bit of research on the history of this story before you watch the movie, so that you have a better idea of what is going on. Overall, good job. Well done. I won't be pulling people off the street, demanding that they watch "Anne of the Thousand Days", but I will say that I enjoyed it very much.
It is a memorable film, well nominated, exquisitely costumed. I like Richard
Burton best of all in this one. He takes up the role of Henry VIII and gives
it many subtle shades of feeling so that you almost understand what might
have really transpired in such a king's turbulent soul. He was somewhere
between a rock and a hard place and rushed headlong into history with his
determined efforts to change the rules of kingship.
Anne Boleyn, here played by Genevieve Bujold, was caught up in these events and ultimately became a casualty of circumstances. I'm not a history buff so can't fill in the true story but it's obvious there was much political intrigue taking place. Also, it rather reminded me of "Othello" in which the ill-fated Desdemona was victimized by Iago's slander. Genevieve portrays Anne with deep conviction and her tremendous vehemence at times sweeps us along through happy moments as well as fiery clashes with family, king, and authorities.
I was enthralled by the excellent supporting actors who formed the king's entourage, and hope to know them by name one day. In particular was their exchange of witty dialogue in the captivating scene which ended in a reference to a "venison haunch." I believe one of these actors later appeared in "Mary, Queen of Scots" (1971) as I recognized the same wonderful voice, and I think it's Vernon Dobtcheff. Well, it's a bit of detective work I must do to confirm.
Anthony Quayle's portrayal of Cardinal Wolsey was right on. Oh the glories of power in high places, so many titled positions he held! Yet in the end the Cardinal could hold onto none of them in a true sense. I feel this is one role where Quayle really excelled as an actor and a very dramatic presence.
For me this film goes hand in hand with "A Man for All Seasons" and "Mary, Queen of Scots" for some great drama on screen.
Despite historical inaccuracies necessarily prevalent in historical dramas (i.e. not documentaries), this film is exquisitely conceived, written, directed, and performed. In my opinion, it is perhaps one of the best historical dramas ever produced, and both Bujold and Burton are remarkable. It's a pity that this film is not more widely known. I highly recommend it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the most-overlooked movies I've ever seen! It is excellent.
This film, based on Maxwell Anderson's play, really makes history feel
alive! Richard Burton is fine here, as always, very magnetic as Henry VIII
but he absolute joy of this picture is Genevieve Bujold, in her first major
picture, as Anne Boylen. How she failed to wina n Oscar is beyond
The set and costumes are great and the acting is stellar. This is all aobut henry's quest for a male heir. Since Catharine of Aragon failed to produce one, he dumps her and seeks out Anne. For a thousand days they are happy. But only a daughter, Elizabeth, is born to them. So Henry accuses her, falsely, of adulter and asks annulment, which the church refuses. Henry decides that will not stop him, he puts her to death, having her beheaded and promptly rides off to romance Jane Seymour (the real person not the actress). But Anne can die with diginity for Elizabeth is hers and will be a far greater queen than any king Henry could have sired. Highly recommend for all fans of Burton and historical drama.
Henry VIII's male chauvinistic desire to begat a male heir for the
throne of England is a tale often told from many points of view. In
Anne of a Thousand Days it's told from the point of view of Anne
Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of the infant child who
became Elizabeth I.
Anne Boleyn, a high spirited young lass of 18, catches Henry VIII's eye at court. One of his previous dalliances was with her older sister Mary and that paid off well for the Boleyn family. Father Tom sees riches and glory even more and persuades her to really keep the king panting.
Anne succeeds all too well. Henry divorces Catherine of Aragon and marries Anne. But all he begats is another daughter. And Henry still wants a son and he's got an eye on another. It all ends tragically for the Boleyn family.
It's important to remember that as the film opens Henry VIII having caught sight of Anne at his court denies permission for her to marry some young lord whom she is in love with and vice versa. Had he looked elsewhere, had he moved on, all this might never have come to pass.
Anne of the Thousand Days took 21 years to come to the screen. It ran on Broadway for a year in 1948-1949 and starred Rex Harrison as Henry VIII. Richard Burton joins a great list of actors who've portrayed Henry VIII on the screen. Probably the young Charles Laughton did him best, but Burton is certainly fine.
Genevieve Bujold in her screen debut is a stunning and fetching Anne, too fetching for her own good. Poor kid though, in other than a monarchist society that was becoming more absolute during Henry's reign, she'd have married the man of her dreams and lived happily ever after.
Anthony Quayle is a fine Cardinal Woolsey though I prefer Orson Welles in A Man for All Seasons. Michael Hordern as Thomas Boleyn destroys more than one member of his family through his own ambition.
Irene Papas makes a tragic Catherine of Aragon. By all accounts Catherine was a pious woman who had incredible rotten luck with her pregnancies. Only daughter Mary survived who grew up to be the Queen known as Bloody Mary. She settled some accounts when she became Queen.
I think the best supporting portrayal is that of John Colicos as Thomas Cromwell. This Cromwell was the great uncle of the more well known Oliver Cromwell. Oliver has his supporters and detractors, but I've never seen a good word in any history books about Uncle Tom. Colicos has him pegged just right as a serpentine intriguer. By the way after the period of this film is over, Thomas Cromwell made one too many intrigues and got on Henry VIII's wrong side. People usually didn't live long after that and Cromwell was no exception.
When he wrote Anne of the Thousand Days, Maxwell Anderson grew up in a society of law. I think a fine appreciation of that fact comes into the moral of the story. Even an absolute monarch has to obey laws or no one is safe. Until Henry VIII was off this mortal coil, no one was.
Burton and Bujold are majestic in this brilliant costume epic about King Henry VIII's relationship with wife Anne Boleyn. The period is captured beautifully in its set design and costuming. There is great support from Irene Pappas, John Colicos and Anthony Quayle as Cardinal Wolsey. This would be a nice film to double up "A Man for All Seasons" with.
Around 1525 Henry VIII fell hopelessly in love with his wife's newly acquired maid-of-honor, Anne Boleyn. A seemingly uneventful, probably unimportant infatuation changed the history of England radically and the history of the world forever. Who in Great Britain at that time ever dreamed that the events unfolding in their king's castle was about to change their lives so much. And it's true. Henry VIII, fascinating in himself, probably didn't even realize what his love for this woman was going to mean. Has there ever been a more tantalizing historical figure to study? This man moved -- literally -- heaven and earth to win the heart of this reluctant, uncooperative, insignificant girl. And no one plays Henry better than Richard Burton, combining wit, cruelty, and selfishness in one unforgettable character. This movie is such a charmer, even if it does take some historical liberties. Bujold is superb as the spiteful, spoiled Boleyn. But even in her transformation in this film is tragedy: she goes from the crown to the block with such speed that even her "head" must have spun! Any student of Tudor history, or anyone just wanting to see a good-old-fashioned epic, will love this movie. I like to think that Burton comes the closest to portraying what Henry VIII must have really been like. But even if you don't like history, Tudor England, or the stars in this movie, watch it anyway. You'll be glad you were born when you were and NEVER the object of a king's love.
With a surprisingly strong script and good performances, the film
delivers as a late 1960s production that reveals a cinema that was in
transition into the modern era. As a historical drama it deserved its
one Oscar win and 9 other nominations. It avoids the plodding
performances of most costume dramas of the time, while not quite
delivering the stunning intimacy that was achieved by the BBC two years
later in its landmark "Elizabeth R" mini-series 1971 - (achieved
through micro-direction, dedication to detail and precision use of the
small screen close-up - who ever said film is the same medium as
Richard Burton turns in arguably the best performance of his career as Henry VIII. Had his performance revealed just a shade more gravitas and reflection, he surely would have picked up an Oscar.
I'm glad to say that British commercial TV managed to air a decent print of this picture over the Christmas season 2006, even though the cinema-scope frame edges were cut off. Well worth watching, but if you shop for a DVD, do make sure it is in the correct format so the full 35mm squeeze / 70mm letterbox frame is visible. A classic from the '60s and a rare achievement.
This fine movie comes so close to excellence ; Genevieve Bujold gives a
performance full of power and passion as the French-educated courtesan who
won the admiration , love and finally enmity of England's most colorful
King. Richard Burton, as Henry, rides rough-shod over all who oppose him in
his pursuit of marital bliss (and a male heir). The supporting cast
interacts beautifully - my only regret is that the part of the usurped Queen
Katherine (Irene Papas) is given little screen time and portrays her as more
abrasive than abject (historically, Katherine made a touching appeal to her
husband at the trial of the validity of their marriage). Other historical
elements such as the schism with the Church of Rome and the political
machinations of members of the court have been downplayed in order to
concentrate on the love story. Thus this movie should be viewed as a costume
drama rather than an accurate representation of historical events. In spite
of these and other inaccuracies I still heartily recommend this movie as a
spirited rendering of Royal lust in "Merry Olde England" and on a broader
level as a kind of morality play showing how the pursuit of one's hearts
desire is often more rewarding than the achievement of one's ambition (or,
as Henry and Anne both learned to their cost, when you get what you want you
may then realize that you don't really want what you get).
For another view of this same era see the film version of Robert Bolt's "A Man For All Seasons" - I also strongly recommend "Henry VIII and His Six Wives", starring Keith Michell and adapted to a movie from a six-part TV series (which I believe is also available as a boxed set).
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