6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
some great, some dissapointing,
This review is from: The Six Wives Of Henry VIII - Complete Series  [DVD] (DVD)
The pageantry, magnificent costumes, background music, background setting was gloriously done and made this series far more engaging to view.
The first episode on Catherine of Aragon (played with great pathos and dignity by Annette Crosbie), was sympathetic portrayal and was certainly the best in the series with intelligent dialogue and a real feel for the age. The film certainly captures a sympathy for the dignified stubbornness and total piousness of Henry's first queen, as it does a great performance of the stingy and scheming Henry VII (John Woodnutt). the way the couple grow from being young and attractive into Catherine's older worn character and Henry developing into an overweight scheming tyrant is well portrayed too.
But the scriptwriters in the next few episodes seem to suffer from a rather bigoted and archaic view of women judging with out most sympathy the sexually virtuous and staid such as Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour (Anne Stallybrass) and total villification of the two queens who were branded 'whores' and murdered on Henry's orders. i.e the puritnaical old portrayal as women as either vrtuous saints or despicable whores.
I though The Other Boleyn Girl both the book by Philipa Gregory and the movie starring Natalie Portman was unecessarily unsympathetic to Ann Boleyn , going back over 30 years , it has nothing on this series. It is completely sympathetic to Henry , presents Anne as self-serving, scheming and malicious and all but tries to present the case that she deserved to be executed. The truth must have been different.
Katherine Howard 9played by Angela Pleasance) who was in reality simple and perhaps promiscuous but certainly good hearted and whose cruel fate was perhaps the most callous and detestable of Henry's crimes is here depicted as wanton, scheming, shrewish and everything bad-once again seemingly trying to present the case for Henry and implying she deserved, a victim of power if ever there was one.
Although this series was done in 1970 during the height of the sexual revolution, the writers of these pieces still were coloured by a very dour view.
Anne of Cleeves (Elvi Hale) is presented in top form as witty and clever. The screenplay on her and on Katherine of Aragon are the best done in this series.