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 ...
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
Critics have been "almost unanimous" in their praise of the show, with particular reference to the attention to period detail, the faithful adaptation of the source novels, and the performances of the leading cast members, particularly Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Claire Foy as Boleyn. See more »
Peter Straughan condenses Hilary Mantel's award winning historical fiction novels for television. Peter Kominsky gets all the candles he needs for gloomily lit interiors but more importantly gets out great performances from his actors and a wonderful paced drama. There is little here that is stuffy or po faced.
Damian Lewis is a thinner, youthful and more athletic Henry VIII here. Claire Foy (Ann Boleyn) is the chancer who uses her body to enchant Henry when almost everyone is against her. Thomas More is portrayed as a religious zealot here happy to torture and kill in the name of Rome, far removed from 'A man of all seasons.'
Holding everything together is an understated but riveting performance by Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell. A social climber, a fixer, the son of a Putney blacksmith adept in the shadowy world of political intrigue and planning. Cromwell literally lurks in the shadows helped with all that candlelight. Cromwell is loyal too as he is with Cardinal Wolsey even after his fall from grace.
The kernel of the story is familiar although it is easy to forget that this is an adaptation of historical fiction. In short it is not all true.
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