Shop now Shop now Shop now Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
181
4.7 out of 5 stars
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£9.44+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

HALL OF FAMEon 3 February 2005
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.
1010 comments| 119 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
44 comments| 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 April 2007
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.
22 comments| 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 November 2001
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.
0Comment| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 December 2005
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...
0Comment| 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2014
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!
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 January 2004
Without a doubt, this is one of my top ten films of all time, mainly because there is so much that can be drawn from.
Zinnemann's adaptaion of the Robert Boltman play was done on a low budget, and whilst it takes artistic license slightly further, the film remains a historical masterpiece. Paul Schofield as More is magnificent, combining a stoical adherence to truth on the one hand, with a dry wit on the other, and this is an accuracy of depiction that could not have been drawn from the words of the script. Robert Shaw as Henry is also fantastic, showing the viewer both the very personal side of the monarch, when he is disappointed at More's non-attendence at the wedding to Anne Boleyn; and the aggression of a lion as he shouts (in full hearing of all party guests) - "I ask you, do they take me for a simpleton?" The swift change from an amiable friend to a dominating absolute monarch is brilliantly played by Shaw, and though it is a marked contrast to the plain More, the performances are equally great.
In October 2000, John Paul II made Thomas More the Patron of politicians (he was already the unofficial patron of Catholic lawyers in the UK). Both positions indicate what a great man he was. A scholar of great learning, a man of letters, a liberal in an autocratic age. His character was perhaps best displayed as his end, in his words to the executioner - "Pluck up thy spirits, man, and be not afraid to do thine office; my neck is very short; take heed therefore thou strike not awry, for saving of thine honesty." The combination of humor and greatness, even in the face of death, povide a role model for all.
If you enjoy the film, read the play and 'The Life of Sir Thomas More' by William Roper, his nephew. Although it bears relation to a specific incident, this popular poem of the time is a fitting epitaph for this great man -
When More some time had Chancellor been
No more suits did remain.
The like will never more be seen,
Till More be there again.
0Comment| 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 29 June 2008
"A Man For All Seasons" is one of my all time favourite films. It is absolutely faultless and could not possibly be bettered. I have seen it so many times I think I know the whole script by heart! Every actor and actress are perfect for their part.I could mention them all but then I would go on for ages so I will confine myself to just a few comments. There will never be a better cameo performance on screen of Henry VIII to match that of Robert Shaw; Wendy Hillier's leavetaking of her husband in the Tower brings tears to the eyes every time; Orson Welles is just awesome as Cardinal Wolsey; and Paul Scofield, of course, is matchless in every way. "Utopia" by the way IS mentioned - in the very first scene!
Buy this and watch again and again - there is something to reward you every time.
Ray Taylor - Barnsley
11 comment| 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 September 2006
Despite other customer reviews that have questioned the historical credibility of this film, agnostic script-writer Robert Bolt produces an accurate depiction of Thomas More according to original transcripts. Okay, so the whole catalogue of More's life hasn't been included within this film (including the torture of heretics), but realistically that would be impossible.

Although it is true that More did torture heretics that by today standards may seem somewhat barbaric, you must keep in mind the societal/political period in which More lived - this was the English renaissance 15th century, and laws and social mandate were remarkably different to the modern day society we all know. Needless to say this does not justify such an act of cruelty. However, law is a key theme of this film. And it is most likely that More's interrogation and torturing answered to hard-line politics intolerant of heretical viewpoints. More did not create legislation, but was renowned for his obedience to the law (which if not for Richard Rich perjury would have saved his neck!) and foremost his impartiality as a statesman.

A Man for All Seasons is a film carried by fantastic script-writing, impeccable acting from all members of the cast, and authentic cinematography that really generates the atmosphere of the period. Unlike many modern hollywood movies that largely incorporate special effects, this is quite simply a film of substance over style. For those who may be slightly dubious as regards to the religious context, do not be dissuaded, for this is a film for people of all beliefs, especially those interested in the virtues of integrity, conviction, and courage in the face of adversity.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 October 2007
Robert Shaw, Paul Schofield, Orson Welles, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, John Hurt, Susannah York etc., etc.
You just are never, never going to get a cast line up like that ever again. At the time, the best actors in the Anglo world. Americans, Canadians, Irish, Australians and Brits at their best.
A story of one man's conscience and the consequences of going against his one time friend, Henry VIII.
A must have movie.
Buy and enjoy.
0Comment| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)