When Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon, is unable to produce an heir to the throne, he uses that as a pretext for the pope to grant him a divorce, so he can marry his newest conquest, Anne Boleyn. The King is backed by everyone on this request except the highly regarded and religious Sir Thomas More. When Cardinal Wolsey, Chancellor of England, names More as his successor, it becomes important for Henry to get More’s support, but More cannot be swayed. Henry demands the clergy to renounce the Pope and to name him Head of the Church of England. Oliver Cromwell frames More, forcing him to resign as Chancellor. Eventually More is brought to trial, found guilty of treason, and beheaded. —rottentomatoes
Vienna-born Fred Zinnemann had childhood dreams of becoming a musician, and later planned on a law career, before his viewing of the movies of Erich Von Stroheim drew him into the movie business, initially as a cameraman. He came to the United States in 1929, and later found work as an editor, and subsequently as an assistant to documentary filmmaker Robert Flaherty, and then as an assistant to choreographer Busby Berkeley. He joined MGM in the late ‘30s as a director of comedy shorts, and won an Academy award for his 1938 short subject That Mothers Might Live. Zinnemann moved up to full-length features in 1941, but found little opportunity to work on anything but B-pictures until 1948, with The Search, a drama set in post-World War II Europe. He didn’t really become a major recognized box-office name as a director, however, until 1952 when his Western drama High Noon, starring Gary Cooper, which had been perceived by most observers as headed for commercial disaster, became a monster… read more
The visual style influenced Stanley Kubrick, with lots of still shots (gargoyles and the prows of boats.) Lots of atmospheric shots of water and the woods. Not particularly effective here... Kubrick makes great use of these, and other elements in "2001..." and "The Shining." I think some of the shots of the woods and plants influenced Tarkovsky. But Zinnemenn's weeds are much easier to take then Tarkovsky's...
Six Academy awards and four Golden Globes. This is solid stuff. Thomas More, the firm Honest Man, against Henry VIII and his weathercocks. I like a lot the way Fred Zinnemann describes this antagonism by opposing during the whole film More's well-grounded mansion and Henry VIII's frail barks. Note how much the director insists on Henry VIII and his sycophants' difficulty to reach the riverside. Highly recommended.
Considering my only entry point into the history of England during the reign of King Henry VIII comes from the first season of Showtime’s “The Tudors,” (a quality program, perhaps a tad too salacious… read review