On his deathbed Tudor-king Henry VIII remembers his long reign and especially the crucial part his six marriages played in it, without producing the male heir he desired most to prevent civil wars for the succession as England suffered before his father's ascent. His first queen, Spanish princess Kathryn of Aragon, had one fatal flaw: her children died, except daughter Mary, so he pressed Rome for an annulment, and when that failed out went cardinal Wolsey as chief minister and Henry made himself head of the Church of England instead of the papacy and married Anne Boleyn. When she too failed to produce a male heir, just princess Elisabeth, he had her head roll for 'infidelity'. The third queen, gentle Jane Seymour, died giving birth to sickly prince Edward. For diplomatic reasons Henry married minor princes Anne of Cleves, whose utter lack of female charms causes another annulment and the fall of Thomas Cromwell, who recommended her. Fifth is the lovely Catherine Howard, cousin of ... Written by
The part of the film covering Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn features some brief stock/agency footage of a number of British castles. A modern boat's superstructure appears briefly in the lower right-hand corner of the shot featuring a castle on a headland. See more »
If you haven't time to immerse yourself in the mini-series, then this two hour, compact 'preview' will give you a neatly constructed overview of the virile King and his exploits as he seeks to secure his lineage by conceiving a successor to his throne.
Rather than condense aspects of the original mini-series (which essentially set aside one episode per wife, to put it crudely), this film version has been entirely remade. Only Michell reprises his title role, showcasing his intuitive interpretation of the rambunctious, though sometimes fragile majesty. Perhaps predictably, Charlotte Rampling's Anne Boleyn has the greatest exposure, though each of the wives acquit themselves well with the often limited dedicated screen time (the lovely Jane Asher playing the ill-fated Jane Seymour stands-out among the rest).
Aussie actor Michell is a more vulnerable King Henry VIII than other memorable incarnations produced by Charles Laughton or Robert Shaw, displaying a deep-seeded personality conflict that while not unique to the character, is played with a more sympathetic tone and gesture.
Hussein's ultra-light has its moments, although clearly it proves difficult to compress six marriages each with their own ulterior motives and intrigue into a mere two hour snapshot. For a preview, it's superb, though it's really no substitute for the mini-series time permitting.
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