Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

 

 

Director:      Charles Jarrott

Starring:     Richard Burton (King Henry VIII), Genevieve Bujold (Anne Boleyn), Irene Papas (Queen Katherine of Aragon), Anthony Quayle (Cardinal Wolsey), John Colicos (Thomas Cromwell), Michael Hordern (Count Thomas Boleyn), Katherine Blake (Elizabeth Boleyn), Peter Jeffrey (Duke of Norfolk), Joseph O'Conor (Bishop Fisher), William Squire (Thomas More), Valerie Gearon (Mary Boleyn), Vernon Dobtcheff (Mendoza), Gary Bond (Smeaton), Terence Wilton (Lord Percy), Denis Quilley (Weston). 

Oscars:        Costumes (Margaret Furse)

King Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn (mother of Queen Elizabeth)

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

 

 

After watching this movie, based on Maxwell Anderson's 1948 play, all I can say is "thank goodness for democracy." Frankly speaking, it was dangerous to be associated with King Henry VIII of England. Too many people around him and his wives had a high probability of having their heads lopped off. In his obsession to have a child the king (Richard Burton), uses women as so many breeding machines. Old Henry comes off pretty badly in his treatment of others. A number of his opponents end up with their heads extended over a chopping block, including Sir Thomas More, who would not sanction the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn.

This movie deals with his affairs with three of his wives, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn (Geneviève Bujold), and Jane Seymour (this future wife only briefly). Henry seems to want women who resist him -- he has to have them partly because they are unavailable. But if they don't deliver a boy, they are out of his life, literally, and even out of life altogether at times.

The movie deals with a lot of the important characters in the reign of King Henry VIII, such as Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cranmer and is therefore interesting historically, but it is a movie that is not easy to watch precisely because of the arbitrary nature of life under King Henry.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

See Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1973) for background to King Henry VIII.

 

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