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Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Man For All Seasons (1988)


The 16th century Chancellor of England (Charlton Heston) finds himself in a moral quandary when King Henry VIII (Martin Chamberlain) seeks from him the approval of his divorce from Catherine of Aragon to marry his mistress Anne Boleyn and the break from the Roman church. Does he stand by his principles or give in to the King's demands? Based on the play by Robert Bolt and directed by Charlton Heston. This is essentially Bolt's play which serves as the screenplay which had previously been adapted for the screen in 1966. This production runs a half hour longer than the 1966 film and restores two major characters that were cut from the 1966 film: the "common man" played by Roy Kinnear in various guises and the Spanish ambassador played by Nicholas Amer. The "common man" is a theatrical device (not only does he play multiple characters, he talks to the audience) that is uncinematic so I can see why it was eliminated from the stripped down Fred Zinnemann film. But as a record of Bolt's play, this is fine and in some instances more than fine. For example, the final parting between Heston and his wife (Vanessa Redgrave, who played Anne Boleyn in the 1966 film) is much more powerful and both actors shine. With John Gielgud, Richard Johnson, Adrienne Thomas, Benjamin Whitrow and Jonathan Hackett.   

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