A Man For All Seasons (Collector's Edition)  [DVD] 
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Adaptation of Robert Bolt's play about Sir Thomas More, a Catholic statesman in England who rebelled against Henry VIII's self-proclaimed status as the head of the Church of England and paid for his religious beliefs by having his head exhibited on London Bridge.
Robert Bolt's successful play was not considered a hot commercial property by Columbia Pictures--a period piece about a moral issue without a star, without even a love story. Perhaps that's why Columbia left director Fred Zinnemann alone to make A Man for All Seasons, as long as he stuck to a relatively small budget. The results took everyone by surprise, as the talky morality play became a box-office hit and collected the top Oscars for 1966. At the play's heart is the standoff between King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw, in young lion form) and Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield, in an Oscar-winning performance). Henry wants More's official approval of divorce, but More's strict ethical and religious code will not let him waffle. More's rectitude is a source of exasperation to Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles in a cameo), who chides, "If you could just see facts flat on without that horrible moral squint." Zinnemann's approach is all simplicity, and indeed the somewhat prosaic staging doesn't create a great deal of cinematic excitement. But the language is worth savoring, and the ethical politics are debated with all the calm and majesty of an absorbing chess game. --Robert Horton
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Conscience versus chaos. I watched this movie for the first time in many years. I wondered how I would feel about it now. Aged sixteen I read it in a night class in Kirkby. I was asked to read the part of Richard Rich. As I was reading I felt the words: opposite of me. I played the text well. ‘Be a teacher!’ More implores Rich. I tried, ticked all the boxes, but failed to say the right things; to be like them. In the movie Richard Rich is the only winner among all the main characters.
Conscience versus chaos is how Sir Thomas More views his predicament. And I find I agree with him. Without individuals who know themselves separate from a group, without individual Self and its moral compass the Law will be abused. I find myself easily agreeing with the character of Sir Thomas More as written by Robert Bolt. The seasons pass in prison and under analysis.
Words are what Thomas More and I revere so much. If words are disposable and have no lasting import, then we do not serve ourselves. Chaos will ensue.
This Masters of Cinema edition is hardly worth getting if you have the 2001 Widescreen dvd version which itself was a Restoration from the original 35mm print. Yes it is much sharper for HD but the colour is rendered the same. In fact the blu ray is lit darker especially on the rowing scenes. I had to cancel the Economy setting on my projector for the first time in the years I have owned it, and it was still darker than the dvd!
It is an improvement on the old dvd, even the dvd supplied with the blu ray is a slight improvement on the old dvd. Get the blu ray for the extra sharpness which is at its best with the veins in Wolsey’s face and the gold robes of the King. But the colours and the film grain are the same. The soundtrack is improved across multi speakers with very clear dialogue. I have to say the Edition is disappointing (like Shane and 1900).
UPDATE: just played the blu ray on my plasma TV. The difference between blu ray and 2001 DVD is barely discernible. Also noted only 7 Chapters for blu ray against 28 for the old DVD. And no Scene Selection facility on blu ray.
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