After the downfall of Cardinal Wolsey, his secretary, Thomas Cromwell, finds himself amongst the treachery and intrigue of King Henry VIII's court and soon becomes a close advisor to the King, a role fraught with danger.
In 1533, Anne Boleyn has given birth to a daughter, much to King Henry VIII's disdain. As Anne's paranoia over her inability to produce a son grows, Thomas Cromwell tries to convince Sir Thomas More ...
In 1535, King Henry VIII's attempt to be declared Head of the Church in England has been denied by the Holy Roman Emperor. Meanwhile, Anne Boleyn's failure to produce a male heir leads Henry toward ...
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the King dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The Pope and most of Europe oppose him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer, and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?Written by
As a life long Anglophile - with a special passion for the Tudors, I could not wait for this series - after only the first episode, I was not disappointed. Wolf Hall is the story of a (not so well known) Tudor personage Thomas Cromwell - lawyer and confidant of Cardinal Wolsey - who at one time early in Henry VIII's reign was "the most powerful man in England." After Wolsey's decline (none of them stay on top forever), Cromwell worked with King Henry VIII directly.
The fascinating thing about Cromwell is that he was a lowly born commoner, but possesses a quick mind, a sharp tongue and is utterly fearless. Mark Rylance is a great Cromwell - not striking in appearance - quite ordinary in fact, yet possessing the qualities that took him far. Even though after only a short glimpse of Damian Lewis in the first episode, I believe he will be a great Henry (based more on his past performances than anything else.)
Aside from being about one of the most interesting families and time periods in history, Wolf Hall's writing scintillates. These types of dramas are long on dialogue and short on action (so Fast and Furious or Mission Impossible fans - stay away), but the dialogue makes the story.
After Wolsey is disgraced (he failed to secure the annulment of Henry's first marriage to Catherine of Aragon from the Pope), Cromwell goes to Anne Boleyn - who is waiting in the wings as Henry wife #2:
Anne: "we only asked the Cardinal (Wolsey) for one simple thing (meaning the annulment)"
Cromwell: "It wasn't simple"
Anne: . . ."Maybe you think I am simple?"
Cromwell: "You may be, I hardly know you."
In Henry's court, no one talks to the next Queen in line like that.
Later, Cromwell visits Norfolk (who was an avowed enemy of Wolsey):
Cromwell: I hope he (The King) doesn't think still of invading France"
Norfolk: "What Englishman doesn't??" "We own France!!"
later same conversation:
Norfolk: "tell him (Wolsey) if he doesn't (go North) I'll come to him and I will tear him with my teeth!!
Cromwell:"May I substitute the word "bite" for "tear?"
Finally in the next scene Cromwell meets Henry and their subsequent discussion concerning a re-invasion of France shows how snarky and smart assed Cromwell can be - even to the King's face.
It is brilliant.
And of course if you have visited England, the scenery and castles will bring back fond memories of your visit.
The Tudors have been a popular subject of movies for some time (Keith Michell - 1970 Six Wives of Henry VIII; or a pretty complete list at http://tudorhistory.org/movies/), this one promises to be one of the best.
I cannot wait for subsequent episodes. DonB
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