Saturday, May 1, 2010

Henry VIII (2003)

With a well known cast that includes Ray Winstone, Emilia Fox, Assumpta Serna, Charles Dance, David Suchet, Mark Strong and Helena Bonham-Carter among others, Henry VIII is a miniseries depicting the life of the mentioned king and his six wives.

Although there are certain flaws I must confess that I was glued to the TV screen from the very beginning. This may be totally wrong but the idea I have of Henry VIII is of a man governed at least to a point by his appetites and desires and somewhat coarse. Winstone certainly portrays that to perfection. They explain his change of wives by his desire to have a son, an idea engraved in his mind by his father on his death bed. I thought that might be stretching things a bit by I suppose it fit the perspective they wanted for their story.

The action is too rushed however. Also some things were changed for dramatic purposes, like Jane Seymour, supposedly the most discreet of his wives, who here was a bit too outspoken. There are many historical inaccuracies and especially the lack of political and economical context as all the screen time is devoted to Henry and his wives. The only exception is Robert Aske's revolt but the events are also changed to present a more glamourised version. If the viewer doesn't have an idea of what really went on during Henry's reign this is definitely not the best miniseries to get educated.

However if you already have that knowledge and want to watch it for entertainment value it is certainly worth your while. The cast alone is impressive, besides Winstone I would have to point out Helena Bonham-Carter who makes an engaging and tragic Anne Boleyn. But there's more to like in the settings, the costumes and those little details used to make it a lavish atmosphere. So, I would recommend this series but with that big set of reservations mentioned above. Watch it at your own peril!!

And this is an entry for the Period Drama Challenge in the Kings & Queens category.

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