Monday, 15 February 2016

I've Just Seen: A Man for All Seasons (1966)

A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Director: Fred Zinnemann

A Man for All Seasons does not quite lose the aura of play about it; it is based on Robert Bolt's play about Sir Thomas More and the legal predicament he finds himself in when he refuses to publicly support (or condemn) Henry VIII's new marriage. While the story moves around to different scenes, it is full of the type of speeches that populate plays. Despite that, because of the quality of the acting, and the moral and political intrigue of the story, the theatrical origins are not a problem.

While I was once very interested in this era of history, and can still tell you off the top of my head the names of Henry VIII's wives and the order in which he married them, I did not know about this story. Paul Scofield portrays More as the ultimate man of the law; one who understands the law so thoroughly, and uses it to try and protect himself as is his right. He is up against the might of Henry VIII and his court, which includes Cromwell, one of the major movers in the English Reformation. More is a devout Catholic, so there was no way the two were going to see eye to eye.

This is a very good film, with a strong script that makes all More's arguments clear and understandable; it is similar to 12 Angry Men, as it explores a complex legal idea in a coherent way.

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