More Man Than Most

Robert Shaw and Paul Scofield in A Man for All Seasons (1966)

With King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) wanting to divorce and then remarry his new consort Anne Boleyn (Vanessa Redgrave), Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles) seeks Thomas More's (Paul Scofield) assistance in requesting a Papal divorce but More a man of principle refuses. Despite this it is through Wolsey that More becomes the new Chancellor whilst King Henry places himself as the head of the Church of England and approves his own divorce. With Henry demanding an oath of loyalty from all his nobles More remains silent which leads Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern) using a technicality to have More thrown in to the Tower of London.

As a movie lover there would be nothing I would like than to watch action and adventure movies all day long, it is my preferred style of entertainment but as a reviewer I seek variation. It is why despite having next to no interest in the era portrayed in this movie that I watched "A Man for All Seasons" which throws up some issues, mainly that the story of Thomas More and his stand against King Henry VIII does little for me. Don't get me wrong as the story isn't bad and it is easy to follow but whilst some historical movies entertain on multiple levels I would say "A Man for All Seasons" only entertains on two; it is a movie for historians whilst also a movie for film students who like to analyse the production.

It is the production which ended up grabbing me and not only does "A Man for All Seasons" feature impressive sets but equally impressive costumes. Every scene from those in the darkness of a room to King Henry jumping down from a boat into the mud by More's home it all looks stunning. Considering this was made for less than $2 million and took just 12 weeks to film it is surprising that it came out looking as well as it did.

But "A Man for All Seasons" is an actor's movie and from John Hurt in his first major movie role to Robert Shaw as King Henry VIII they are all extremely well played. But it is Paul Scofield who makes the movie and does so by playing Thomas More with such a natural air about him that it feels like a role which Scofield was practising to play all his life.

What this all boils down to is that as a movie fan "A Man for All Seasons" is an impressive movie and despite the storyline not being my sort of thing I can appreciate how those with an interest in history would enjoy it. But it is a movie which owes a great deal to its actors, none more so than Paul Scofield who is a natural in the role of Thomas More.

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