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G. R. Arckless "History man" (UK)

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The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972]
The Shadow of the Tower [DVD] [Import] [1972]
Dvd ~ James Maxwell
Offered by MMRSALES
Price: £7.99

97 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wonder for Wise Men, 14 May 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The life of Henry VII is extraordinary. He was a virtual unknown with a very dubious claim to the throne who got where he did becuase of the mistakes and misfortunes of others. He was a cautious man who took a huge gamble in challenging Richard III but the gamble paid off. The fact that Henry remained King of England until the day he died and handed a secure and solvent kingdom to his much more famous son Henry VIII was amazing given the insecurity of the early years of the Tudor dynasty.

That insecurity and its consequences forms a large part of "The Shadow of the Tower". How Henry VII triumphed over almost every challenge is key to the story. The character of the King is the thread that holds all of the plays together and the performance of James Maxwell is brilliant in bringing Henry to life. Henry VII has been described as the cleverest man ever to sit on the throne of England. That comes across very well; shrewdness, cunning, sometimes ruthlessness. But humour too - and compassion. The episode where Henry meets a doomed "heretic" is moving and shows the King as a devout man, very much of his time and very close to the Church.

The King's humanity is brought in to focus as we see his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth of York, who begins almost as a trophy of the victory of Bosworth (and in this presentation a pretty reluctant one at that), but ends as a loved and lamented Queen.

The picture of some key characters is good: Perkin Warbeck is shown as a flashy fantasist pushed reluctantly to his fate. The Earl of Warwick is portrayed as an innocent pawn and his judicial murder is a dreadful stain on Henry's reputation.

A bonus disc includes "The Innocent" which gives a more detailed assessment of Warwick's tale - here he is played by a very youthful Robert Powell and James Maxwell shows why he was the natural choice to play the king in the later series.

Don't buy this if you want extravagant sets, rich costumes battle scenes or grand locations. The plays can seem a bit disjointed and some work better than others. They are a world away from "The Tudors" and are all the better for that.

The impression left is that "The Shadow of the Tower" lacks some of the impact of "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" or "Elizabeth R". I hadn't seen these since I was in my teens in a very flaky black and white TV broadcast when BBC2 reception wasn't too reliable. But since those days when my interest in the Tudors was ignited by the trilogy of Tudor series I have really wanted to see "The Shadow of the Tower" again. My interest in the Tudors has been life-long and my love of history propelled me, a Secondary Modern School pupil, to study history at degree level.

I doubt very much that "The Tudors" will have such an impact. All historical drama is fiction, but the best is grounded in reality and based on good research and decent writing. "The Shadow of the Tower" has these qualities.

I would recommend this series to anyone with an interest in Henry VII - truly a "wonder for wise men".

I am puzzled as to why this BBC production is currently only available in an American or European format. Don't let that put you off - just get rid of the subtitles.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 13, 2012 11:00 AM GMT

Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self
Dear Me: A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self
by Joseph Galliano
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Time travel can happen without a Tardis!, 14 Feb. 2011
Joseph Galliano's idea to contact lots of the great and the good and ask them to write to their sixteen-year-old selves has worked very well. It gives us an insight in to the people who have written these letters and particularly what formed them as young adults. The letters show a range of emotions and the authors include Elton John and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The photographs and drawings and the layout of the book bring life and colour.

Not only does the book raise funds for a good cause it provides real food for thought. It shows some of the massive social and political changes of these times; a reminder that being a single mother or growing up gay meant very different challenges.

There is a real human wamth here too; great affection for the teenage self, some sage advice and an awareness that it could go unheeded.

By coincidence two members of my extended family are sixteen during this year. I intend to give them both a copy of this book together with a letter from me to add to the collection.

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD]
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series [1970] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Keith Michell
Price: £11.00

144 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic, 12 Mar. 2007
The series comprises a series of screen plays, each dealing with a Queen's story. The series is held together by the magnificent performance of Keith Michell. He IS Henry VIII. He is ably supported by his consorts; Annette Crosbie as Catherine of Aragon shows anger dignity and pain, Dorothy Tutin as Anne Boleyn gives a glimpse of the spirited, single minded woman who mothered Elizabeth I, Anne Stallybrass leaves us wondering if Jane Seymour was a gentle innocent or the willing tool of a ruthless court faction, Elvi Hale as Anne of Cleves portrays a shrewd woman who seems to achieve exactly what she wants, Angela Pleasance gives a display of innocence, native cunning and unbelievable foolishness, and finally Rosalie Crutchley as Catherine Parr shows a woman driven by duty who survives the treachery all around her. It is the strong casting of other key characters which gives the series depth; Patrick Troughton as Norfolk, and Bernard Hepton as Archbishop Cranmer were born to play those parts.

The series is well researched and soundly based in fact, and although there are of course inaccuracies they are few in comparison with more modern productions. Watch "The Other Boleyn Girl" which is included as a bonus and the contrast is obvious - nor does this series rely on gory special effects to achieve its impact.

I was fascinated by this series when I first watched it as a teenager and it inspired a passion for the Tudor period which has never left me.

The DVD set is excellent value even if the quality of reproduction is not always as sharp as the original.

It is well worth watching. Enjoy!

Henry VIII And His Six Wives [DVD] [1972]
Henry VIII And His Six Wives [DVD] [1972]
Dvd ~ Keith Michell
Offered by addysshopofhorrors
Price: £34.99

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Tudor Taster, 19 Feb. 2007
I first saw this in the cinema on its original release and purchased the DVD version. There is much that is good in this; Keith Michell is excellent as are some of the supporting players. The concentration of the story on Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn is understandable but does poor justice to Katherine Parr and Anne of Cleves. The music, costumes and settings are very good and some of the key scenes - such as the confrontation at Blackfriars between Henry and Catherine of Aragon are very well done. The TV series inspired an interest in the Tudors which is still with me after more than 30 years. Overall the film version is well worth seeing, but the TV series, now out on DVD, is superb.

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