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Wallis and Edward
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"Affecting and richly enjoyable" 'Radio Times'. He gave up the throne. What she gave up was perhaps even more painful.
Was American divorcée Wallis Simpson a scheming seductress bent on becoming Queen of England? Or did she get caught up in something she did not understand and could not stop? Based on extensive research, this new drama'starring Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck, 101 Dalmatians) and Stephen Campbell Moore (A Good Woman, Bright Young Things)'marks the first time the famous love story has been told from her point of view.
When their love affair begins, Edward, Prince of Wales, is a charismatic playboy, and Wallis is married to her second husband, businessman Ernest Simpson. Because Edward has had a string of mistresses, his affair with Wallis does nothing more serious than raise a few aristocratic eyebrows. But once he becomes King, the establishment demands that he give up Wallis. His refusal to do so puts her in the middle of the bitter struggle between the King's heart and his duty to the royal family and the nation.
Also starring Miriam Margolyes (The Age of Innocence, Ladies in Lavender) and Margaret Tyzack (The Forsyte Saga, Match Point).
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES INCLUDE interview with writer Sarah Williams, production notes, production photo gallery, historical photo gallery, and cast filmographies.
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This version presents things the way Wallis may have viewed them. Very unusual is the idea that she didn't want to divorce Ernest Simpson at all, she considered they had a good "partnership," she was sure the future king (Edward)would eventually tire of her and move on to a new fling. This is in contrast with the 7 CD set by the BBC, which gives all the details of the parliamentary involvement and the legal issues, and which presented Wallis as thinking she could become Queen of England and setting out with a definite plan to totally captivate Crown Prince Edward and remove him from the influence of his other married paramours.
It's also totally different from the portrayal of Wallis and Edward in "Bertie and Elizabeth," which paints both Wallis and Edward in a very negative light, especially in comparison to Bertie and Elizabeth, well respected for their exemplary lifestyle and sacrifice and courage during WWII.
Since obviously there are details of the Wallis/Edward relationship and history that no one, perhaps not even the persons involved, can ever really know, the film would have to be labeled "based on history." But Joely is fabulous and the actor who portrays Edward is also quite good, although other performances have captured better the physical appearance, voice, and mannerisms of the famous lovers.
Summary: I highly recommend this film for aficionados of the British Royal Family.
This lavishly produced two-hour television film takes the exactly opposite view. Edward here (as depicted by Stephen Moore Campbell, a dead ringer for the King) is an articulate defender of his inalienable human right to love freely, and Wallis (Joely Richardson, with a bizarrely harsh and unconvincing American accent that sounds nothing like the real woman from her appearances on television) wants nothing more than what's best for the British people and for her dear, dear second husband Ernest. In this account, she just can't seem to get Edward to leave her alone with his passionate intensity for her: he seems to be some sort of curse visited upon her. Meanwhile, Queen Mary (Margaret Tyzack, great as always at playing society gargoyles) and King George V (Clifford Rose) gnash their teeth at what they mistake to be Mrs. Simpson's incredible presumption, and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (Richard Johnson) and other Establishment monsters plot her annihilation. There's no talk of Wallis's scheming against Edward's other mistresses, and hardly any mention of her incessant social climbing; she just seems somehow to have blundered into the whole affair without a plan in the world. Still, it's nice for once to get things from the Windsors' point of view, even if it does almost as if they paid (from beyond the grave) to have this produced as propaganda. If anything this film is worth seeing just for the clothes: since both Wallis and Edward were famous clotheshorses, the costumes for this film are absolutely spectacular.
This screen adaptation of their love story is told from Wallis' point of view and is quite a sympathetic portrayal of Wallis. Though I'm no expert on the history of this romance, I did wonder as to how much of this version was fact because the traditional versions seem to point a very accusatory finger at Wallis' role behind Edward's decision to abdicate his throne to be with the woman he loves.
What comes across clearly is Edward's [played magnificently by Stephen Campbell Moore] infatuation and obsession with Wallis [Joely Richardson, more recently seen in the tv series Nip and Tuck], an American woman who had been divorced and was married to American businessman Ernest Simpson [David Westhead]when the pair meet. Very soon, Edward, Prince of Wales who was famous for being a playboy [much to the detriment of his royal parents, King George and Queen Mary] takes Wallis as his lover, but their affair doesn't draw too much attention until he openly displays Wallis at official functions and shows his partiality towards her. When Ernest asks Wallis for a divorce [supposedly embroiled in an affair himself] after a civil meeting with Edward, all hell breaks loose as the British PM, Stanley Baldwin [Richard Johnson] and other influential people begin to realize the very real threat that Wallis poses to the monarchy should Edward decide to legalize their union by marriage once Wallis' second divorce comes through.
The specter of a marriage between Edward and Wallis at the time was deemed a catastrophe as Edward, who became King Edward VIII upon the death of his father, was the head of the Church of England, and which forbade remarriage for anyone whose divorced spouse was still living [and in this case, both of Wallis' ex' were still living].
The rest of the story tells of Edward's futile attempts at convincing the British government to grant a morganatic marriage. This version portrays Wallis as a woman prepared to sacrifice Edward for the sake of his throne, telling him NOT to abdicate, but has us believe that Edward was acting of his own volition in abdicating.
I found Edward's portrayal by Stephen Campbell Moore to be very credibly done and one of the most poignant scenes in the movie is when he is talking to his younger brother Bertie, who went on to become King George VI after Edward's abdication. Joely Richardson also does an admirable job as the much vilified Wallis, and this particular screen version of the romance portrays a very sexual side of the relationship between Edward and Wallis, which is made all the more believable by the authentic chemistry shared between the two leads. The sexual aspect of the pair's relationship is often ignored in other versions, but not here. One gathers that though Wallis was not endowed with great beauty in the traditional sense, often seeming almost manly, she nevertheless exuded a very potent sexual charisma that undoubtedly attracted Edward to her, among many other things.
All in all, "Wallis and Edward" may veer away from the traditional version of events but it nevertheless makes for riveting viewing.
This writer gives us her version, which is much more sympathetic to Wallis Simpson than others. Here Wallis is shown to want to have stepped out of the picture and to have Edward take the throne. What remained a question in my mind was whether the woman really loved the man or if she was grabbing at what she considered was her last chance at security. It is quite obvious that Edward was truly mad about her but I never got that she genuinely cared about him. She was flattered by the attention, and as a woman who had grown up as a poor child in America, the atmosphere in which she found herself as his favorite was certainly a heady one. Even her husband enjoyed it for a while. But did she love him?
Joely Richardson plays the enigmatic Mrs. Simpson, as self assured and supposedly charming. I felt that in the attempt to make the character more vulnerable and sympathetic to the viewer, that her beauty and charm were given short shrift. I don't consider Ms. Richardson particularly beautiful and, if I hadn't known the story I would have wondered what the Prince saw in her. When we saw the photos of the real pair, one could easily see the beauty and charm.
I found Stephen Campbell Moore amazing as Edward. He looked very much like the photos and seemed to perfectly embody his idealistic, romantic, perhaps foolish character. His portrayal made the man very believable. He had style, charm and beauty enough for both of them.
Like many others, I grew up hearing about this couple and saw pictures of them in their later years as they cruised from one fashionable spot to another. And I had heard his famous abdication speech many times. So I always had the impression that this was a great love story. Maybe it was, but in this film it comes across as more tragic and sad. In spite of the intentions of the writer, I found that the character of Wallis Simpson was still very unsympathetic.
This film is quite beautifully done and certainly piques your interest to know more.