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The best portrayal there is of Henry VIII to date,
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This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series  [DVD] (DVD)
An absolutely wonderful collective performance - although it has already been said more than a dozen times already on here, but I must add to the chorus of praises, Keith Mitchell is simply magnificent as Henry VIII. Having read a great deal of historical and academic work on this monarch, for me, Mitchell's performance encapsulates everything we know about Henry and it is so obvious that the actor immersed himself totally within this storyline. What I find particularly impressive is his transformation from the idealistic, almost naive and chivalrous young monarch with good intentions to a tyriannical, almost embittered and obese king. Too often, dramas and the public imagination alike recall Henry mostly as the obese, wife-killing monarch.
I have to agree that Annette Crosbie and especially Dorothy Tutin also put on near equally magnificent performances as Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn alike, the latter's refelction on some of her earlier imprudence and haughtiness seem particularly poignant towards the end of the second episode as her downfall progresses, and is much in line with what we know of her personality.
Jane Seymour for me though is the most interesting portrayal. Due to her apparently more reserved personality (probably due to Henry's suppression of her following previous experiences with his wives) and apparent lack of political knowledge, ambition or has also been suggested, intelligence, we know very little about her and certainly even less of her opinions. Yet, the suggestion in this drama that she may well have felt guilty about supplanting an innocent rival is very interesting and clever. Certainly not a theory I have encountered in books, academic works or other dramas before.
However, I do have only a few misgivings about this drama (though indeed, very few) and that is the portrayal of Catherine Howard. I do not blame Angela Pleasence for I feel she put on an otherwise splendid performance. I far preferred the portrayal of Catherine in the film version of this TV series in which she was portrayed (as has been more or less agreed by historians) as an unlucky young woman both with a past and as an unsuspecting tool of the Howards.
Another criticism is that I felt that the drama should have portrayed Anne as slightly more terrified and neurotic whilst in the Tower; a characteristic in which we know her to have deployed in her final days.
Although, all in all, these are just minor reflections in what was overall, a magnificent piece of drama. Lack of blood, guts, gore (and glamour) aside - the likes of The Tudors still pales in comparison to this drama. JRM - take note.