- Actors: TP McKenna, Jean Marsh
- Directors: John Walsh
- Format: Dolby, PAL
- Language: English
- Region: All Regions
- Number of discs: 1
- Studio: 3DD Productions
- DVD Release Date: 7 April 2014
- Run Time: 87 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 62 customer reviews
- ASIN: B00HDIRRVC
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,378 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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From double BAFTA nominated Writer and Director John Walsh.
King Henry VIII reigned for 38 years. Young and handsome, his Court was the most colourful and extravagant in Europe. Yet this glamorous exterior partly disguised his unpredictable and savagely ruthless nature. His obsession to father a legitimate male heir led him through six marriages, to make himself Supreme Head of the English Church and to cut down those who stood in his way.
Monarch is part fact, part fiction and unfolds around one night when the injured ruler arrives at a manor house closed for the season. Henry is without the power and control of his palace and is vulnerable from those around him, and from his own sanity. Henry left England financially and morally bankrupt; his collection of enemies his only constant. Even today there is a question mark surrounding his burial and possible exhumation.
TP McKenna plays Henry; after starring alongside Richard Burton's Henry VIII in the epic Anne of a Thousand Days and Charge of the Light Brigade with Jean Marsh (Upstairs Downstairs, Willow and Fatherland) playing an amalgamation of his ex-wives. Monarch unfolds on one night in the year of Henry's death, 1547.
The film has been painstakingly remastered from the original 35mm colour camera negative which was discovered languishing in a film vault for nearly 20 years and is now presented in full High Definition for the first time.
TP Mckenna towers as Henry VIII --Barry Norman, Film Reviewer
Mesmerizing performance --Dexter Fletcher, Director and Actor
Almost 20 years ago, John Walsh, who was to become a double BAFTA- nominated writer- director, made a film about the last year of Henry 8th's life that might well have been released as an exceptionally original short story successfully translated into a feature film.<p?>
It has a sick monarch holed up in an empty manor house where the young caretaker at first has no idea who he is, nor that his posse of courtiers may well be planning a coup.The film, now painstakingly restored after being found in a vault, has TP McKenna as the thunderously bad- tempered king and Jean Marsh as an amalgam of his mostly unfortunate wives.
There is no doubt that the two principals, who have acted together before, give highly watchable performances, with McKenna pursuing a course just this side of melodrama. He knew exactly what he was doing, and gives the film its status as much more than merely an exhumed curiosity.--Derek Malcolm, Evening Standard See all Product description
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Sadly it's one of those ideas that needs a better script and a better supporting cast to really fly - The Lion in Winter it ain't. McKenna is better than his material, James Coombes' mysterious stranger is decent enough despite one lengthy and redundant Irving-the-Explainer monologue and Marsh tries her best in a losing battle with the confused and clumsy writing she's given in her brief cameo, but the rest of the cast are a mixed bag of styles from TV acting (there are a lot of Doctor Who veterans here), stage acting, camp acting and really bad acting that never mesh, as if they're all acting in a different film. The photography is variable, lacking the resources to light its genuine Tudor house location to the best effect while not making a virtue of the fact by a more stylish use of natural light and veering instead towards the filmed sequences in 80s and 90s British TV dramas. But the biggest problem is the script, which has ambitions its dialogue and plotting never fulfil and skirts perilously close to the sort of sixth form college play the drama teacher wrote because they didn't have the budget to afford to put on A Man for All Seasons before moving back to the kind of thing you expect from one of those For Schools programmes that gets broadcast at four in the morning on BBC2 for teachers to tape to show in the classroom. It's certainly not spectacularly terrible, but it's not very good either.
The DVD quality is acceptable considering the limitations of the original photography, and there are some distinctly low-res extras - a very brief and insubstantial on-set interview with T.P. McKenna, featurettes on the making of the film and its restoration and a stills gallery.
Incidentally, this is another of those films nobody's ever heard of that has a lot of rave reviews on the IMDB (reposted here under other user names) from posters who have never made a single post and most of who have only ever reviewed one other film, which just happens to be exactly the same documentary from the same director (unless of course Monarch is the only film they've ever reviewed), so nothing remotely suspicious there. And nor is the fact that one of the usernames is the same as the film's production company. Take from that what you will.
John Walsh did the lot in this film -he wrote, produced and directed it! The scene opens with Will - a humble gardener, come odd job man- come mansion sitter (Mark Montgomerie). Nobody else is residing at the posh address. Peace reigns for Will until his idyll is broken by some menservants of Henry VIII bowling up to the pad and taking the place over!
Henry is injured. They were attacked on the road. Who knew they would be on the road at that time? Why come to this particular house in the middle of the night? If nothing else, the darkness adds to the tension as Will hides within the labyrinth of the building whilst Henry's blokes tend to his injury and go in search of Will!
Who can Henry trust, has Will any idea that he has the top man under the mansion roof?
Will finds a jewel belonging to Henry - should he hang onto to it or give it back? Will seems ramrod honest -how about everybody else?
We know Henry's reputation -bombastic etc. His injury makes him even more a pain in the proverbial to all of those around him. Plus his dementia makes him forget things and reflect on his bumpy track record with his wives and the Catholic church.
As if the night was not loaded with enough tension already Will meets another mysterious guy, Thorn, (James Coombes) lurking in the building too. Where did he come from and can he be trusted?
Then there are the two sinister looking Irish Wolf hounds - do they have a minor role in the film sitting at Henry's bedside bed. Can they be trusted?
All of Henry's helpers have a distinct dislike, distrust and loathing for each other -so no problems there then - and it's still very dark!
Will reminds me of Steven Seagal in that his character is a humble house sitter whilst Seagal was just a humble cook - or is he that dumb?
" A Christmas Carol"- like scene is woven into the film too, with Henry having to answer for his previous actions to a brilliantly white Jean Marsh. She is headlined in the movie - but only has a cameo appearance. Can Henry mend his ways and repent whilst he is so alone in this mansion compared to all the servants etc. who usually wait upon him in his palaces?
The film develops into all sorts of skulduggery and dark scenes. All Henry's men have to face the king and justify their existence and prove their loyalty.
Although the film is a little bit dated, I was still left guessing what was going to happent next. Henry is stripped of his regal powers and is as vulnerable as a cornered sewer rat. Will he make the end of the film? How about his gofers?
The bonus material shows an interview with T P McKenna in 1996 commenting on the film (he died in 2011).
Overall, l I think the film does stand the passage and time in its clearer, sharper version. It has a handful of characters in its cast, and this helps to amplify the tension as "that night" unfolds
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I could wax lyrical about what it's about but I think by now what we don't know about the Tudors...Read more