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Henry VIII
Henry VIII
Actors: Ray Winstone, Joss Ackland, Sid Mitchell, Charles Dance, Mark Strong
Director: Pete Travis
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2004     4hr 10min

Henry VIII, ascended to the throne as a lithe, handsome seventeen-year-old and died after an extraordinary 38-year-reign, an embittered, obese invalid.The rest of Europe looked on in amazement as Henry, desperate for a mal...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Ray Winstone, Joss Ackland, Sid Mitchell, Charles Dance, Mark Strong
Director: Pete Travis
Creators: Andy Harries, Bill Shephard, Francis Hopkinson, Justin Bodle, Peter Morgan, Rebecca Eaton
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Hbo Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 11/16/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 4hr 10min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Reviewed on 5/10/2010...
very good and entertaining historical saga. well worth the watch

Movie Reviews

Horrible! History Begone!
Sharon A. Hutchinson | Vineland, NJ United States | 11/21/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"In reading some of these reviews, I wonder if we had seen the same movie.

Even if I did not have a degree in history, the terrible inaccuracies and inconsistencies would have been apparent to even a casual historical buff. It is so bad I don't know where to begin.

Henry VIII came across as a blue collar worker who dutifully goes bowling every Saturday night. There was not even a rudiment of royal aspect to this character; whether or not it was due to the terrible miscasting of the actor (one of many; more about that later) or a clueless director, one can only guess. If I didn't know the main events and personages of this period, even a scorecard wouldn't have helped me understand what was going on.

Major historical events simply flew by without any rhyme, reason or explanation. At least in some productions, actors are sought who bear some resemblance to the actual person. In this case, an attempt to do so must have been thrown out the window. Henry VIII was over 6 ft tall according to his skeleton unearthed in the 1800s. In this movie almost everybody towers over him, in an age when most men were around 5'6"-5'8" in height. And the rest--Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer--not one of the actors bore any recognizable resemblance at all to their historical personages, and in most cases were the exact opposites. And why the crewcuts?

The personalities of Henry's wives were many and varied remarkably from one to the other. This movie, however, took that fact of their differences in individual traits to a ludicrous extreme. At times, they were downright incorrect. Jane Seymour was way too overbearing, talkative and meddling. In reality, Henry had been initially captivated by her because she was quiet and unassuming. Catherine Howard was a promiscuous young girl, but I doubt she exhibited such sauciness in Henry's very presence. Didn't anybody involved in this fiasco read a history book?

Skinny dipping in Tudor England?????????

I cannot finish this review without commenting on the total lack of knowledge of the time period. Didn't anyone know that women, especially those of the upper class, NEVER appeared in public without the sometimes elaborate headresses of the period? The only exception would be when a woman was crowned; she would ride to her coronation with her hair loose. Otherwise, women generally hid their tresses under headpieces and scarves. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the young Lady Mary in public without any head covering; likewise Catherine Howard.

What makes this especially disappointing is that usually the British are sticklers for historical accuracy. Can someone tell me what happened with this movie? Are they no longer teaching English History in the schools?

This sad movie is nothing but an elaborate soap opera set in Tudor England and altering the principles to such a degree that one had to guess whom they were portraying.

If you know very little about history, please do not use this movie as a starting point in your education. As for those of us who have made an intense study of Tudor England--this film isn't even good enough for a laugh. History massacred! This production does not really even merit one star, but the scoring method does not give me the option of a "0"."
Interpretation in history...
FrKurt Messick | Bloomington, IN USA | 11/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As an historian, I was a bit disappointed with the latest recreation of the lives and wiles of Henry VIII, arguably one of the most important figures in British history. The nursery rhyme is well known - Henry the Eighth was six times wedded; two he divorced, two beheaded...

This production, written by Peter Morgan (known for other television productions such as `The Jury') and directed by Pete Travis (also of `The Jury', also `Other People's Children'), is a period piece that largely rests on one primary theme - that Henry VIII was charged by his father with one task above all others, and that was to secure the succession for another Tudor. Since this was a world in which (supposedly) a queen could not rule in her own right, this required a male heir to the throne (of course, it would be Henry's own offspring that would change that assumption, for the better, and for ever).

Henry's quest to gain a male heir knew no bounds; by the time his obsession had destroyed many lives (not just those of the unfortunate women he married), he was an overweight and overbearing man with not too many years left to live. His succession of wives is made all the more dramatic by the speed of the unions - between his first divorce from Catherine of Aragon in 1533, he had five more wives in the span of only 10 years, the last one to last until his death in 1547. The women came into favour and fell out of favour quickly, sometimes due to infidelity and political intrigue, and sometimes due to the quirky whims of Henry.

It is this quirkiness that is highlighted in Ray Winstone's performance. Winstone is not well known to American audiences, but a regular fixture on British television and cinemas. Henry is presented as a brash, lustful, but often boyishly-innocent figure, vulnerable and wounded by others around him, especially the wives, if they do not live up to his expectations or desires of loving him for himself. The cast of women portraying the wives is impressive, including the award-winning Helena Bonham Carter as Anne Boleyn, Emilia Fox as Jane Seymour, and Clare Holman as Catherine Parr. If you think you recognise the voice of the narrator, you probably do - it is that of Shakespearean Derek Jacobi.

The sets, costumes, and other atmospheric pieces are well done and appropriate to the context. But this is an actor's piece, driven by dialogue, and here is falls a little short of fully satisfying. The characters are a bit too much of caricatures; they overemphasise certain strengths and weaknesses, and do not play as balanced figures (even for the imbalanced people that history tells us they were). This is meant to draw the tragedy of Henry's life out, and his role as more sinned against than sinning in many parts of the film play.

Well worth watching, the viewer who expects an undistorted history lesson will be disappointed. However, in the `some events have been changed for dramatic purposes' world of acting, it does help to cause some reconsideration here and there of all the events of the time. History is as much a record as it is interpretation. This is one.
Bloody ,awful
A. Keller | 11/09/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)

"Granted, historically based movies can never be completely historically accurate, and there is room to debate many of the key issues in Henry VIII's reign, but it doesn't even appear that the producers read one historical account, opting instead to produce an violent, nauseating portrayal of Henry VIII, his wives and their times. Yes, the sixteenth century was violent, but Henry VIII was much more than a barbaric thug. The scenes with Anne Boleyn, played with some skill by Helena Bonham Carter (though her character is far too underdeveloped) were overshadowed by moments which ranged from laughable (Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn skinny dipping) to horrific (Henry VIII brutally rapes Anne Boleyn toward the end of their marriage.) There is no need for this, and if you are a person who has studied the lives of these individuals as I have, it is offensive. Not to mention there was no need for the gratuitous scene of the beheading of Anne Boleyn, where you see the executioner hold up Anne Boleyn's severed bloody head. It's all shock and very little substance.
There is not enough room to recount the historical inaccuracies in this film. Suffice it to say there were many, and while a good film could rise above those inaccuracies, this did not. When it wasn't completely wrong, the movie repeats (almost verbatim) lines from a much better film about these characters, Anne of the Thousand Days. Anyone who is interested in knowing more about Henry VIII should stay away from this film. some creative license is acceptable and expected, but I would at least expect the makers of this movie to base some of the plot on historical facts. Anne of the Thousand Days is not wholly accurate either, but at least it attempts to ground the plot and the characters in some historical basis. I would refer anyone to Anne of the Thousand Days or better yet, a good biography such as Starkey's Six Wives or Ives' Anne Boleyn. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I would advise anyone truly interested in Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to avoid this film. I am just glad I saw it on tv and didn't waste my money buying it, as I am very disappointed. I will admit I haven't seen the second part of this series, but I have no doubt that it will be as bad if not worse than the first. Even if the second part is better, I doubt it could redeem the first part of this movie which I have just reviewed