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Henry VIII (1979)

The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight (original title)
Not Rated | | History | TV Movie 25 April 1979
Henry VIII is a proud and wilful monarch who defies Rome's ban on divorce to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. Cardinal Wolsey, the Powerful Lord Chancellor of England, attempts to bend Rome ... See full summary »

Director:

Kevin Billington

Writer:

William Shakespeare (play)
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Stride ... Henry VIII
Julian Glover ... Duke of Buckingham
Ronald Pickup ... Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury
Barbara Kellerman ... Anne Bullen
Timothy West ... Cardinal Wolsey
John Rowe ... Cromwell
Lewis Fiander ... Duke of Suffolk
Alan Leith Alan Leith ... Sergeant-at-Arms
Claire Bloom ... Katharine of Aragon
Tony Church Tony Church ... Prologue
John Bailey John Bailey ... Griffith, Gentleman-Usher
David Troughton ... Surveyor
John Nettleton ... Lord Chamberlain
Charles Lloyd Pack Charles Lloyd Pack ... Lord Sandys
Nigel Lambert Nigel Lambert ... Sir Thomas Lovell
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Storyline

Henry VIII is a proud and wilful monarch who defies Rome's ban on divorce to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn. Cardinal Wolsey, the Powerful Lord Chancellor of England, attempts to bend Rome to the king's wishes in the matter of the divorce of Catherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne Boleyn. Later, near death, he repents his unpriestly activity. After Henry divorces her, Catherine is sent to Kimbolton Castle. Anne marries Henry and becomes his queen. Written by GusF

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Genres:

History

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The entire film was shot on-location at Leeds Castle, Penshurst Place, and Hever Castle; each of which bears associations to some of the historical figures in the play. See more »

Connections

Featured in Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom (1999) See more »

User Reviews

 
Splendor! For Once, A Production Better Than The Play
24 December 2006 | by tonstant viewerSee all my reviews

Most of the time, we wind up making excuses for these BBC Shakespeares. Limited preparation time, studio sets instead of real locations, uneven casting, memories of other, better performances....

Here is a production to knock your eyes out. If TV studio production confuses you and you want physical reality, here it is. Exteriors were videotaped at two castles, interiors at a third. With a winter shoot, the actors' breath condensation is visible outdoors and occasionally in-, while the rich, colorful costumes are enhanced by the solidity of the settings. There is a masque by torchlight that is nothing short of magical. But the visual design never descends to Franco Zeffirelli-style overstuffed hyper-literalism.

This is one of only two BBC Shakespeares that were shot outside the studio. The other was "As You Like It," and I didn't. In that play, the Forest of Arden dwarfed the actors. Here, the location work enhanced the play. Unfortunately, it was also very expensive, and for budgetary reasons the rest of the cycle was returned to the studio.

As Tony Church intones the opening Prologue, the verbal rhythms are somehow different from what we expect. The glory of the language comes and goes throughout, and it turns out that about half the scenes were written by John Fletcher, Shakespeare's successor with the King's Men. But half a Shakespeare is better than none, and this video is one of the best executed in the series.

The actors are all excellent and some more so. You get the chance to boo two of the choicest villains of their generation, Timothy West of the permanent scowl, and Peter Vaughan of the Nutcracker profile. Claire Bloom is terrific as Katherine of Aragon. She is apparently unable to hit a false note in Shakespeare, and her two confrontations with Timothy West as Cardinal Wolsey are devastating.

John Stride fits the bill as Henry, and Barbara Kellerman shows Anne Boleyn as considerably more than a simpering virgin. Ronald Pickup as Cranmer has a rather strange, spooky affect, but he gets points for successfully delivering his big speech while holding a squalling infant. The supporting roles are consistently strong. And though this is a long play, it never feels slow, thanks to Kevin Billington's direction. Would that I could say that about all of these shows, but I can't.

The low IMDb user vote on this video is statistically skewed. If you remove the 5 outlying "1"s from disgruntled schoolchildren, you'll find the vote is deservedly one of the highest in the series. Well done!


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 April 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Complete Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare: Henry VIII See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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