During the sixteenth century, the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots engages in over two decades of religious and political conflict with her cousin, the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I of England, amidst political intrigue in her native land.
When Elizabeth Tudor comes to the throne, her (male) advisers know she has to marry. Doesn't she? Thus starts a decades-long political/ matrimonial game, during an age of high passions and high achievement.
Henry VIII of England discards one wife Catharine of Aragon, who has failed to produce a male heir, in favor of a young and beautiful woman, Anne Boleyn, whose one-thousand-day reign as Queen of England ends with the loss of her head on the block. Henry weds Anne and soon she gives him a child. The girl, Elizabeth, is a bitter disappointment to Henry, who desperately wants an heir. Anne promises Henry a son "next time," but Henry is doubtful. Shortly thereafter, rumors begin that the King's eye has already wandered. One Jane Seymour is at court for a moment. The Queen has her sent away, but, if Anne will bring Jane back to court, the King promises to sign the Act of Succession to insure that Elizabeth will be Queen.Written by
Elizabeth Taylor was present at the shooting of the final Tower of London scene, out of fear that her husband, Richard Burton, and his co-star Geneviève Bujold, were having an affair. Before she began filming the scene, a furious Bujold told the director, "I'm going to give that bitch an acting lesson she'll never forget!" See more »
When Henry and Anne are playing chess, the chess board is set up improperly. The chess board has a black square in the lower right square. That square must be white. See more »
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.
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