Henry VIII wants to divorce his wife, and seeks the approval of the aristocracy. Sir Thomas More is a man of principle and reason, and is thus placed in a difficult position: should he ... See full summary »
Henry VIII wants to divorce his wife, and seeks the approval of the aristocracy. Sir Thomas More is a man of principle and reason, and is thus placed in a difficult position: should he stand up for his principles, risking the wrath of a corrupt King fond of executing people for treason? Or should he bow to the seemingly unstoppable corruption of Henry VIII, who has no qualms about bending the law to suit his own needs? Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
In his autobiography, Charlton Heston says that he had hoped to be cast as Thomas More in the film version of Robert Bolt's play, but the part went instead to Paul Scofield, who had originated the role in the Broadway version. See more »
I think most of the comments on IMDb (or Amazon) for this film are rather unfair. Unfair to the actor Charlton Heston and unfair to the film itself. Please let me explain:
It seems to me a sort of "England, England!" thing is standing in the way of a fair and objective comment on this film (as if I could give one...). Even though Charlton Heston has sunk very much in my esteem since "Bowling for Columbine" I feel I need to set the record straight (for my own peace of mind): This film is great, and believe you me, I am a Scofield fan (I simply adored him in the 1966 version of this film as well as in the 1994 Martin Chuzzlewit television film/mini-series).
But to do away with this 1988 version of Heston as a failed attempt to improve on Fred Zinneman is not only an unfair comparison but also a foolish one. To begin with: Heston's version is far closer and more true to Robert Bolt's play than is the Fred Zinneman version. In addition, Heston's performance, although more obviously dramatical than that of Scofield, is more passionate. The scene in which he thrashes Roper and stands for his daughter Meg is simply the greatest ("They put about too nimbly!!!"), as is his performance with the Duke of Norfolk when they discuss water spaniels. Next to Heston, the performance of his fellow actors should not be discarded.
Roy Kinnear, bless his soul, is brilliant as the common man (a Robert Bolt invention that stayed alive in this version but was left out of the 1966 Zinneman production)
In addition, the role of the king is played simply brilliantly by Martin Chamberlain. The scene in More's garden is a scene that will never be mastered.
Vanessa Redgrave gives one of her finest performances as More's wife. The scene in the Tower where they part for the last time is always tearing me apart! (Oh God, all these plain simple men!)
And of course the roles of the "two ugly ladies" Benjamin Withrow and Jonathan Hackett are delicious and not to be found anywhere so great in the 1966 Zinneman version.
So I beg you: Please be fair, enjoy the Zinneman version, but also take the time to (learn to) appreciate Heston's version. The man has his faults, but just appreciate that what he has done right!
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