Wednesday, November 23, 2016

TCM VCR Catch Up: Anne of the Thousand Days

Anne of the Thousand Days, starring Richard Burton and Genevieve Bujold, may have started my fascination with Anne Boleyn.The timing of the release date is right.

I thought the performances were good--I was surprised to read that Burton hated his performance.

I had more issues with the screenplay. Henry VIII gets a sympathetic portrayal: a man haunted by his failure to produce a male heir, tormented by fear that his marriage was invalid in the eyes of God (as revealed in a prayer scene.) Anne's father and uncle are also given more sympathetic portrayals than history may warrant--they are passive rather than ambitious.

In an early scene, Anne tells Harry Percy that she is not a virgin. There's no point to this scene. It would make sense if this information was later discussed in the investigation or trial. Instead: there's no further mention of it. Is this some kind of slut-shaming?

Henry was all over the place in the last third of the film. He says he wants to get rid of Anne, but makes an appearance at her trial and discredits the testimony of Mark Smeaton. Then he says the adultery charge could be true after all. It makes no sense. Other scenes show his confusion about the charges as if he was some innocent victim of Cromwell's machinations.

The men found guilty of adultery with Anne besides Smeaton and George Boleyn (Norris, Brereton and Weston) are listed in the credits but barely have a presence in the film. George is also vague. The screenwriters miss a great dramatic moment when Percy has to declare Anne guilty. Too bad.

Final quibbles: Henry VIII should be a redhead. Bujold is too beautiful to be Anne Boleyn. But maybe she has to be beautiful to convince the audience of her appeal.

Still a good movie.

No comments:

Post a Comment