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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While the real More was more complex - this is a GREAT movie
I have loved this movie since I saw it in its original release too many years ago. Certainly, Sir Thomas More was a magnificent person who died a martyr and has been canonized a saint. However, don't confuse the play and movie with the flesh and blood man. He was much more complex in real life than the purely noble performance of Paul Scofield. You can read the...
Published on July 23 2003 by Craig Matteson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The world must construe according to its wits."
In the modern day, powerful men frequently divorce their wives with minimal repercussions on society as a whole. In the time of King Henry VIII, Henry's divorce caused a major rift between church and state that redefined the political landscape in Europe. Fred Zinnemann's "A Man for All Seasons" chronicles this event and captures all the moral and practical dueling that...
Published on July 16 2003 by Steven Y.


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars While the real More was more complex - this is a GREAT movie, July 23 2003
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
I have loved this movie since I saw it in its original release too many years ago. Certainly, Sir Thomas More was a magnificent person who died a martyr and has been canonized a saint. However, don't confuse the play and movie with the flesh and blood man. He was much more complex in real life than the purely noble performance of Paul Scofield. You can read the biography of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd to get at some of his complexities.
But this is a wonderful movie and I recommend it with great enthusiasm. It is a powerful movie and can have some useful at least temporary curative effect on the soul suffering under the ironical detachment and cynicism of our time. Scofield is wonderful and the definitive performance of this role. Orson Welles is quite special as the corpulent and corrupt Cardinal Wolsey. John Hurt is superb as the traitor Richard Rich. Shaw is fine as Henry VIII as is the rest of the cast.
And who can forget the line where More asks to see chain of office that Richard Rich was given to perjure himself and betray More. After examining it and being told that Sir Richard was made the Attorney General of Wales More says, "Richard, it profits a man nothing to trade his soul for the whole world, but for Wales ..." Wonderful stuff.
The disk offers the wide screen theatrical release and a full screen version for those who like to see less of the picture in order to avoid the upper and lower "bars". There is also the original trailer.
There are no other features on the disk beyond scene selection.
This disk belongs in every collection and should be reviewed regularly as an healthful tonic to help remedy the bilious nihilism of our age.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Interesting of Six Thomases, Feb. 17 2004
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
This period in English history and then the Elizabethan era which follows have always interested me. You thus can understand my appreciation of Derek Wilson's book In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIIII. Wilson focuses his primary attention on six Thomases: Wolsey, More, Cromwell, Howard, Wriothesley, and Cramner. Henry's VIII's relationships with all six serve as the basis of Wilson's narrative. By the way, there really were lions in London at that time ("the King's Beasts") housed in the Tower menagerie and a major tourist attraction. More once compared the king's court to a lion pit "in which the magnificent and deadly king of beasts held sway." Of the six, More interests me the most. His rectitude threatens and infuriates Henry, and eventually results in More's execution. Thus presented, More is a tragic but noble political victim and religious martyr, later canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. He is no less admirable as portrayed by Wilson but, in my opinion, is much more complicated than Bolt and others suggest. For years, More skillfully navigated his way through a court ("a lion pit") characterized by what Wilson refers to as its "seamy realities": "The royal entourage was a vicious, squirming world of competing ambitions and petty feuds, guilty secrets and salacious prudery. Courtiers, vulnerable to threats and bribes, could be induced to perjure themselves, to exaggerate amorous incidents which were innocent in the context of stylised chivalric convention, to indulge personal vendettas....Over all these momentous happenings looms the larger-than-life figure of Henry VIII, powerful and capricious yet always an enigma."
People still disagree about Robert Bolt's characterization of More in the play and then in the film for which Bolt received an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. I agree with others who insist that More was less noble than Bolt suggests. No one, however, disputes the fact that More courageously accepted decapitation rather than compromise his religious faith. Cynics suggest that More was already a dead man...and knew it. He had an estate to protect and family obligations to accommodate. I am unqualified to speculate or even comment further on More's motives even as I marvel at his survival skills when drawn into "the lion's court."
Paul Scofield received and deserved his Academy Award for best actor in a leading role. The film and director Fred Zimmermann also received Academy Awards. The cast is exceptionally talented, especially Nigel Davenport (Duke of Norfolk), Wendy Hiller (Alice Cromwell), John Hurt (Richard Rich), Leo McKern (Thomas Cromwell), Vanessa Redgrave (Ann Boleyn), Robert Shaw (Henry VIII), Orson Welles (Cardinal Wolsey), and Susannah York (Margaret More). Unlike many stage productions later filmed, this one derives substantial benefit from Ted Moore's cinematography, especially the exteriors shot throughout and beyond royal residences. Moore also received an Academy Award for his work.
Those with an especially keen interest may wish to examine The Last Letters of Thomas More as well as several solid biographies of him by Peter Ackroyd, J.A. Guy, Richard Marius, and Gerard B. Wegemer.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite Utopia, Feb. 28 2006
By 
FrKurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (Bloomington, IN USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Morally and Spiritually Uplifting Film, March 12 2004
By 
David Weichelt (Wheaton, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
I just saw "A Man For All Seasons" (Fred Zinnemann's 1966 version) and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was about a man who died for his faith in the name of God. He died under the tyrannical founder of the Anglican Church (as I regret my church's origins now), King Henry the VIII. This king wanted approval of everyone in the kingdom, especially the chancellor (which is the bishop's principal legal authority), who was Sir Thomas More. By the way, the issue was primarily around the king's divorce and re-marriage, and then later trumped up for the king's assumption to the role of head of the Church of England. Sir Thomas More evaded the primary and other issue until it was forced on him and eventually he lost everything, save his pure conscious before God. I highly recommend this film esp. after seeing "The Passion of The Christ".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Seasons" offers poignancy, pause, July 18 2004
By 
Z. D. Houghton (Indianapolis, IN) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
Paul Scofield's quiet, dignified portrayl of Sir Thomas More is one of the most riveting performances one will ever find.
With a determined, yet not brash or unseemly stance against Henry VIII (Robert Shaw, in all his young glory), More creates a devastating question for the viewer: how long do our principles remain dear to us. To discomfort? To imprisonment? To death?
Perhaps one of the most endearing qualities of More's character is that he does not waver. It is a quality that is only universal in the sense that it is respected by all men and possessed by very few.
In the end, perhaps the only validation More is given is the dignity of his death, his detractors exposed as dishonest, biased men. Is that enough? Certainly More was able to change little of history by the manner of his death. It did not stop the divorce OR the Anglican church. Perhaps the only prize integrity has is itself. Certainly More himself believed a much higher reward awaited him. After watching this movie, regardless of religion, you will find yourself hoping he was right.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The world must construe according to its wits.", July 16 2003
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
In the modern day, powerful men frequently divorce their wives with minimal repercussions on society as a whole. In the time of King Henry VIII, Henry's divorce caused a major rift between church and state that redefined the political landscape in Europe. Fred Zinnemann's "A Man for All Seasons" chronicles this event and captures all the moral and practical dueling that took place in the wake of one monarch's desire to move onto a new wife.
King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw) desperately wants to marry Anne Boleyn (Vanessa Redgrave) so that he can sire a male heir. When the Chancellor of England, Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), refuses to support the King's divorce from his current wife, Henry turns his back on Rome and the Pope and appoints himself as the head of the Church of England. Troubled by this wanton disregard of the law, More refuses to publicly acknowledge King Henry in his new position. His stubbornness to stick to his morals eventually leads to his imprisonment and eventual execution.
"A Man for All Seasons" plays like a film out of time. Its strong honorable message seems dated in a contemporary society where role models are scarcer than ever. Yet it still remains an inspiring story that reminds us of how noble the human spirit can be when it does not buckle under the pressures of morally-dubious forces. The performances in the film from top to bottom are outstanding. Scofield richly deserved his Best Actor Oscar and Shaw shines in his role as Henry. Leo McKern, John Hurt, Orson Welles, Susannah York also turn in strong work with York being particularly effective as More's headstrong yet devoted daughter. If anyone needs a refresher course on how to detect the finer distinctions between right and wrong then a viewing "A Man for All Seasons" would be a good starting point.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Interesting of Six Thomases, June 3 2004
By 
Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
This period in English history and then the Elizabethan era which follows have always interested me. You thus can understand my appreciation of Derek Wilson's book In the Lion's Court: Power, Ambition, and Sudden Death in the Reign of Henry VIIII. Wilson focuses his primary attention on six Thomases: Wolsey, More, Cromwell, Howard, Wriothesley, and Cramner. Henry's VIII's relationships with all six serve as the basis of Wilson's narrative. By the way, there really were lions in London at that time ("the King's Beasts") housed in the Tower menagerie and a major tourist attraction. More once compared the king's court to a lion pit "in which the magnificent and deadly king of beasts held sway." Of the six, More interests me the most. His rectitude threatens and infuriates Henry, and eventually results in More's execution. Thus presented, More is a tragic but noble political victim and religious martyr, later canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. He is no less admirable as portrayed by Wilson but, in my opinion, is much more complicated than Bolt and others suggest. For years, More skillfully navigated his way through a court ("a lion pit") characterized by what Wilson refers to as its "seamy realities": "The royal entourage was a vicious, squirming world of competing ambitions and petty feuds, guilty secrets and salacious prudery. Courtiers, vulnerable to threats and bribes, could be induced to perjure themselves, to exaggerate amorous incidents which were innocent in the context of stylised chivalric convention, to indulge personal vendettas....Over all these momentous happenings looms the larger-than-life figure of Henry VIII, powerful and capricious yet always an enigma."
People still disagree about Robert Bolt's characterization of More in the play and then in the film for which Bolt received an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay. I agree with others who insist that More was less noble than Bolt suggests. No one, however, disputes the fact that More courageously accepted decapitation rather than compromise his religious faith. Cynics suggest that More was already a dead man...and knew it. He had an estate to protect and family obligations to accommodate. I am unqualified to speculate or even comment further on More's motives even as I marvel at his survival skills when drawn into "the lion's court."
Paul Scofield received and deserved his Academy Award for best actor in a leading role. The film and director Fred Zimmermann also received Academy Awards. The cast is exceptionally talented, especially Nigel Davenport (Duke of Norfolk), Wendy Hiller (Alice Cromwell), John Hurt (Richard Rich), Leo McKern (Thomas Cromwell), Vanessa Redgrave (Ann Boleyn), Robert Shaw (Henry VIII), Orson Welles (Cardinal Wolsey), and Susannah York (Margaret More). Unlike many stage productions later filmed, this one derives substantial benefit from Ted Moore's cinematography, especially the exteriors shot throughout and beyond royal residences. Moore also received an Academy Award for his work.
Those with an especially keen interest may wish to examine The Last Letters of Thomas More as well as several solid biographies of him by Peter Ackroyd, J.A. Guy, Richard Marius, and Gerard B. Wegemer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A film for all viewers, April 9 2004
By 
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars STILL A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS, Feb. 6 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
Five hundred twenty-six years ago today Sir Thomas More was born. His would become a truly remarkable life but nothing about his storied history is more remarkable than his stand for honor and morality against King Henry VIII. A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS recounts in almost precise historical detail the events that would make More a martyr and international hero for generations and, indeed, for all seasons.
Leading an all-star cast, Paul Scofield stars and Sir Thomas More, a man wanting nothing more than to live a quiet, peaceful life with his family. But events in England spin out of control as King Henry VIII, portrayed masterfully by Robert Shaw (JAWS), determined to wed his second of many wives, runs headlong into the Pope and, because of his religious convictions, into More. The classic story is one of betrayal, deceit and of ultimate honor and triumph for More.
The stellar cast also includes Orson Welles (CITIZEN KANE) as Cardinal Wolsey, Wendy Hiller (THE ELEPHANT MAN) as More's wife Alice who wants her husband alive and well but also sees the that her love for him is based in large measure on the man of integrity and character that he is, and Nigel Davenport (CHARIOTS OF FIRE) as The Duke of Norfolk, More's weak and naïve ally and friend.
Leo McKern (LADYHAWKE) stars as Thomas Cromwell, the political sociopath who wants power and the King's approval, really, more than More's submission, and is the vile instrument who ultimately brings about the corruption of Richard Rich, More's one-time friend and protege, portrayed wonderfully and wickedly by John Hurt (THE ELEPHANT MAN). Richard Rich epitomizes the very worst in public service, a man who can be bought and who will do anything to gain power and prestige. Rich seems to have lived well before his time. Given what we have seen in recent years in world politics, and especially in the highest office of the government of the United States, Rich would have been very comfortable in today's divisive political landscape.
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS is one of the greatest films of all time. It says much about the responsibilities of those who, whether elected or appointed, ascend to the highest political offices possible. How sad it is that, as a "civilized" world, we have forgotten this as we seem to be bent on supporting and electing the very shoddiest, underhanded and corrupt individuals that society has to offer. Maybe it's time we learned the lesson.
Sumptuously staged and shot, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS is based on the equally striking stage play by Robert Bolt and received the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1966. Paul Scofield, for his landmark portrayal of Sir Thomas More, took home the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Douglas McAllister
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, Jan. 3 2004
By 
L. Miller (NJ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Man for All Seasons (DVD)
This movie deserved every single Academy Award it ever won. I am currently writing a paper on, basically, the historical worth of this movie. I can't find a single historical discrepancy in this movie!
Scofield plays More as a man so admirable that all the other characters almost seem to fade out around his brilliance. Completely honest, honorable, never taking a step wrong (at least, in his conscience).
My three other favorite characters were Orson Welles as the increasingly creepy Cardinal Wollesy, hugely fat and dressed all in red, Robert Shaw as Henry VIII, a completely hilarious madman, as anyone would imagine, and Wendy Hiller as Alice, Thomas's wife. "I married a lion!" he proclaims.
One of the most significant phrases that More makes, before his beheading: "I die his majesty's good subject, but God's first."
This movie not only gives the viewer true insight into what actually happened regarding Henry VIII's Anne Boleyn fiasco, but it also will stand ageless as an incredible work of film.
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Man for All Seasons, A (Special Edition) Bilingual
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