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112 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Utopia
Films such as this are rare today; 'A Man for All Seasons' turns not on action sequences of battles past or present, nor on love affairs, or indeed political issues that have a burning relevance for today. It is not a comedy, nor a tragedy in the classic sense. In a word, it would seem to have little to recommend it -- however, it is one of the best film ever produced...
Published on 3 Feb 2005 by Kurt Messick

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Heavily cut version
This is a very poor version of the film. It's been heavily cut. I suggest you carefully compare run times before you buy any version of this film.
Published 18 months ago by B. Hudson


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112 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Utopia, 3 Feb 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man For All Seasons [DVD] (DVD)
Films such as this are rare today; 'A Man for All Seasons' turns not on action sequences of battles past or present, nor on love affairs, or indeed political issues that have a burning relevance for today. It is not a comedy, nor a tragedy in the classic sense. In a word, it would seem to have little to recommend it -- however, it is one of the best film ever produced. Turning largely on the issue of personal integrity and the conflict of competing calls to faithfulness, this is a drama of the interior struggle of Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England, writ large across the political/religious landscape of Henry VIII's England.
The whole tone of the film is excellent. From the opening scenes of couriers dashing from Wolsey to More, backdrops of pre-Renaissance England fill the screen, from the magnificent but appropriate un-ornate manor houses and parliamentary scenes (the set of Westminster Hall, a building in which I once worked) to the costuming and music, period in style and instrumentation. The director Fred Zimmermann resisted the urge to provide orchestral music as a background; indeed, through much of the film, there is no music at all, as the drama itself carries the weight of the narrative and atmosphere. The cinematographer, Ted Moore, as well as the director received Academy Awards for their work.
This is an actor's film, the force of the drama being driven by their performances. Exceptional acting by John Hurt, Leo McKern, Nigel Davenport and Robert Shaw enhance lead actor Paul Scofield's Oscar-winning portrayal. Scofield presents the intellectual More as a character of supreme integrity (following Bolt's play perfectly), an integrity hard to maintain in the shifting sands of Henry VIII's drive to break with Rome to secure a divorce. More, as chancellor of England after Wolsey (portrayed in a slightly-more-than-cameo appearance by an effective but declining Orson Welles), was charged with maintaining both peace with the King and his faithfulness to the church, of which he was an acknowledged intellectual leader throughout Europe. In the end, the church won out -- as More said at his execution, 'I remain the King's good subject, but God's first.'
Hurt and McKern portray Richard Rich and Thomas Cromwell, schemers and social climbers of which royal courts are always full. Nigel Davenport as the friend who becomes an enemy, himself turned by the political tides, is also effective, but the best role beyond Scofield's is that Robert Shaw, who portrays the 'lion of England', Henry VIII, capricious and volatile, far too taken with his own sense of purpose and without many courageous enough to stand against him.
The roles of More's wife Alice (Wendy Hiller) and daughter Meg (Susannah York) are admirably played. Alice as the illiterate yet intelligent wife of More is concerned for the family's well-being; Meg as the educated daughter (More's experimental school practiced, generations ahead of its time, gender equality in education) almost steals the scene from Shaw at one point. Hiller's performance as More's companion up to the scene in the Tower is strongly portrayed, and she does not lose her character in the face of so many other powerful figures.
Rare in film-making today, the full force of the plot develops upon the device of Qui tacet consentit - silence implies consent. More relied on the legal idea that, so long as he did not speak out against the king, his silence implied consent and he was safe. However, as Cromwell (correctly) argued, More's silence was not meaningless, nor was it taken as consent by any who knew him. On this one point, More's integrity falters, for he was intelligent enough to know that the truth was different from the legal fiction; however, this was also the position he maintained regarding Henry's marriage to Anne Boleyn.
This is not a feel-good movie; indeed, the final narration makes one wonder rather at the idea of justice in the world. Yet it is a meaningful and stunning film, and one deserving of viewing by all.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conscience of the King, 15 Mar 2008
By 
Charles Vasey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition) [1966] [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
I remember the first time I saw this film in the mid-Sixties in Middlesbrough on a school trip. I thought it utterly wonderful, most of my classmates thought it wordy and foolish.

Sir Thomas More is played as a man of unbending conscience who depends upon his lawyerly skills to keep him from the axe (for this is England, not Spain) as such it is an evocation of the joys of hairsplitting. At times almost Shakesperarian in its language, it is a play about words and what they mean. More must seem a terribly unreal person to our present generations, but Scofield plays him very believably as a rather autistic good man who finds the foibles of others hard to accept. He is surrounded by a bevy of thespian talent. Nigel Davenport as the stentorian Duke of Norfolk, Leo McKern as the evil Cromwell, John Hurt as the man who gains all and loses all, Robert Shaw giving us a Henry VIII that (like Alec Guinesses's Charles I) sticks in the mind; and Colin Blakeney as the servant Matthew. It's a joy to behold. (And I've forgotten to mention Orson Welles and many many others).

I cannot think how many times I've seen it; please give it a shot, I think you'll enjoy it.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film For All Collections, 10 April 2007
By 
Ian Millard - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition) [1966] [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
This tells the better known part of the story of Sir Thomas More, who was raised from lawyer and then judge to become Lord Chancellor or England, only to be sentenced to death and beheaded for treason, having failed to take an oath which would legitimize the divorce of Henry VIII from his Spanish wife and his soon-following marriage to Anne Boleyn (later also beheaded). More's book "Utopia" is not mentioned in this film. The film itself is a production of such quality that it is hard to praise it enough. Directed by Fred Zinnemann, the photography, especially of "sweet Thames" and its bird life, is of the highest and most moving quality, though in fact filmed not on the Thames itself (the banks of which are now largely developed between Hampton Court and Chelsea) but on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire. The acting likewise, featuring some of the best British film actors of the time of filming, as well as Orson Welles (playing the previous Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey). The screenplay by the unrivalled Robert Bolt is what really puts the seal on this most valued film. If you have never seen A Man For All Seasons, see it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The phenomenal Paul Scofield!, 25 Nov 2014
This review is from: A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition) [1966] [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
The perfect gift for all history enthusiasts is THE ROMA VICTRIX WINE BEAKERCalix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS has Sir Thomas More (PAUL SCOFIELD) pitted against Henry VIII (ROBERT SHAW) as he struggles with his conscience and religious convictions rather than give in to those who want him to support the King's desire to annul his barren marriage and wed another.

He's up against all sorts of devious schemers, two of the most infamous extremely well played by LEO McKERN and JOHN HURT. ROBERT SHAW gives an over-the-top, typically flamboyant performance as Henry VIII that sometimes borders on the ludicrous. Oscars, including one for Scofield as Best Actor and other awards that included Best Picture and Best Director (FRED ZINNEMANN).
Yet, for this performance, he received much acclaim.

But PAUL SCOFIELD carries the film with his intelligent, piercing eyes and wit as he spars verbally with every member of his household, including WENDY HILLER as his stubborn wife who wants him to spare himself the indignity of being sent to the Tower. He maintains his poise and quiet determination at all times.

The costumes, the sets, the exteriors--all are brilliantly captured to give the film an authentic feeling of time and atmosphere. The screenplay by Robert Bolt is a pleasure to watch and listen to as it unfolds a period of history right before our eyes. This is the sort of film only the British can do in the royal manner--and it justifiably won several well deserved
As a Compelling drama and dare I say, a history lesson, you can't afford to miss it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1966 and all that, 20 Aug 2013
This review is from: A Man For All Seasons [DVD] (DVD)
How rich was the theatre in London in those days. Wonderful acting from actors who spoke beautifully and clearly. Robert Bolt was part of this scene, a highly respected playwright, Paul Scofield the actors actor. Robert Bolt adapted this highly successful stage play for the screen and a cast of some of the best actors of the time were assembled. How vibrant was Robert Shaw as the king. So this was not a big budget production, but the river, the riverside house, Hampton Court Palace are all perfect locations for the action of the play and suit it perfectly. It is amazing. A highly successful film. It is an honor to be able to watch the work of so much British talent from this time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The King’s true servant, but God’s first., 3 Nov 2014
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This review is from: A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition) [1966] [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
‘A Man For All Seasons’(1966) is a superb film. If I were to choose a single film to illustrate the attitudes and dilemmas of the 16th century it would be this one. It is just about faultless in every aspect – screenplay(Robert Bolt), direction (Fred Zinnemann), cinematography (Ted Moore), costume and music – and won numerous awards. Outstanding, of course, was the acting – Schofield as More (so determined and quick-witted), Robert Shaw as Henry VIII (only half believing his bluster but an ego running riot), Leo McKern as Cromwell (the ultimate bureaucrat) and Orson Welles as Wolsey (decayed mastery) along with Richard Rich (losing his soul for Wales in his first film outing), Wendy Hillier as Alice (beating her head against the wall of wifely obedience). Thomas More is a more sympathetic figure than the historical original (NB his persecution of heresy) and I always see Welles as Wolsey when studying what REALLY happened. The film is accurate historically and is a successful embodiment of an age which so emphasised conscience (the Reformation) and yet produced a tendency towards tyranny (read about Star Chamber, religious persecution and the rat-cage which housed the court intrigues of Henry VIII’s environment). I can’t give the film 6 points, unfortunately.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal, unlearned, opinion, 9 Dec 2005
By 
D. A. B. (Gloucester (ex- Mercia)) - See all my reviews
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I have read some of the more "learned" opinions of this film, and have to bow to the greater knowledge of those who have studied the characters portrayed, and their true histories. I have seen another version of this story - actors etc. now forgotten - but this time the underlying politics, personal stand-points and emotions were much more evident to me. One has to listen to every word and consider every phrase to gain the maximum from the dialogue, and thus from the story. Watch it two or three times, you might just understand the arguments if you do!
I cannot judge the accuracy, others seem to have done so - but there seems, to me, to be a window into Tudor politics in this film, and a feeling that politics may not have changed much since...
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An opportunity to learn and enjoy through fine acting, 28 Nov 2001
This review is from: A Man For All Seasons [DVD] (DVD)
Bolt's play managed to use contemporary accounts of the life of this great man of English History and he was able to adhere closely to the original.The film,although straying slightly further manages to retain the beauty of the language and combines it with some fine acting.I think Sir Paul Schofield is supreme in the role and is particularly poweful in the scene of his trial.Robert Shaw too as Henry conveys well the difficulties he must have faced in putting to death one of his wisest councillors and best of friends.There is no violence, no bad language, a film that can really be enjoyed.I remember it firing my imagination when it was first released and led me to a life long love of the Tudor period I would thoroughly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "I die His Majesty's good servant... but God's first" A splendid film about a great Catholic marthyr and saint, 19 Nov 2014
By 
Darth Maciek "Darth Maciek" (Darth Maciek is out there...) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition) [1966] [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
EXCELLENT! This British 1966 production is a major film in history of world cinema. When telling the story of a great man it also deals with a great tragedy - and comes out with honours in both points. I discovered it finally for the first time and I am very happy that I bought and watched it. Below, more of my impressions, with some SPOILERS.

This film is an adaptation of a play about last six years of life of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Lord Chancellor of England who refused to sign a letter asking Pope Clement VII to annul King Henry VIII of England's marriage to Catherine of Aragon and resigned rather than take an Oath of Supremacy declaring Henry VIII Supreme Head of the Church of England. This brilliant lawyer, humanist philosopher, scholar and author (most important work is of course "Utopia" published in 1516), is also known to Catholics as Saint Thomas More (beatified in 1886 and canonized in 1935).

The renowned director Fred Zinnemann, who was already famous for his masterpieces like "High Noon" and "From here to eternity", signed here possibly his opus magnum. This film describes the last years of life of this great man with great brilliance and it is clear that it deserved the six Oscars received, including that for the Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor.

Paul Scofield, whom I saw previously only in the 1964 war movie "The Train", portrayed More PERFECTLY and he was deservedly covered with awards for his performance. It is a great pity that this great stage actor didn't appear more in the movies... The rest of the cast is excellent as well, with the best performance offered by Leo McKern who plays a Thomas Cromwell 100% as abject as he was in the real history. Young John Hurt, for whom it was only the third role ever, is also excellent as Richard Rich - his character is also so abject that he really deserved to be killed by a chest burster 13 years later...)))

Henry VIII (played by Robert Shaw) appears ultimately little on the screen - and the one long scene in which he is present shows clearly how a horrible, unstable and FREAKISHLY SCARY brute this man was. Honestly, for a moment I thought that I was watching a film about Ivan the Terrible, his fellow tyrant and madman. In fact it seems a really weird, strange coincidence that Henry VIII, the most tyrannic and bloodthirsty ruler of England died in January 1547 - exactly the same month when young Ivan the Terrible, the craziest and most cruel of tsars, was crowned ruler of Russia... It is almost as some evil spirit abandoned agonizing English tyrant to go posess a younger and even more promising Russian despot...

Orson Welles appears as Cardinal Wolsey and he is GRANDIOSE! Nigel Davenport provides his massive frame and huge talent to the role of duke of Norfolk, one of few men serving Henry VIII who seem to have at least some decency left - although ultimately not so much courage... Susannah York is excellent as Thomas More daughter. Vanessa Redgrave makes a cameo as Anna Boleyn.

The tone of the film, especially in its second part, is close to the one in similar productions about people whose death was decided in advance by men in power and who are brought to "trial" just to give some legal cover for their murder. Andrzej Wajda's "Danton" is probably the closest such work, although I couldn't also help but notice a similarity of the tone with "Marie Antoinette, reine de France" in which Michele Morgan portrayed with great dignity the martyred queen of France, especially when she faced the parody of trial...

The film begins slow and builds up the tension with great skill until the last 15 minutes, in which it becomes a ground shaking and wall shattering drama, filled with great - and very tragic - one liners.

This is a GREAT film which everybody should see at least once. Pope John Paul II said once that it was his favourite movie - and now that I finally discovered it, I totally understand why... A MAJOR MASTERPIECE WHICH WILL NEVER AGE! ENJOY!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, 26 Jun 2012
By 
RENE PADILLA GRAZIANO (MEXICO,, DISTRITO FEDERAL Mexico) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition) [1966] [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
IT IS AN EXCELLENT FILM. GREAT PERFORMANCES. VERY GOOD ACTORS AND VERY GOOD SCRIPT. IT IS A VERY IMPRESIVE HISTORY OF A LOYAL MAN TO PRINCIPLES AND VALUES. FIRST OF ALL LOYAL TO GOD AND TO HIS FAITH.
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