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The story takes place in 16th century England. But men like Sir Thomas More, who love life yet have the moral fiber to lay down their lives for their principles, are found in every century. Concentrating on the last seven years of English chancellor's life, the struggle between More and his King, Henry VIII, hinges on Henry's determination to break with Rome so he can divorce his current wife and wed again, and good Catholic More's inability to go along with such heresy. More resigns as chancellor, hoping to be able to live out his life as a private citizen. But Henry will settle for nothing less than that the much respected More give public approval to his headstrong course. Written by
The role of Cardinal Wolsey was played by John Gielgud in the early scenes and by Orson Welles later. Gielgud does not appear in the credits here but the role does appear on Gielgud's pages. See more »
In the opening scene, when Wolsey is sealing the letter to More with wax and his official seal, after he hands the letter to Cromwell and he folds it and pours the sealing wax, there is a string of wax that trails from the ladle and over the letter. Yet in the closeup when Wolsey is applying his official seal, that trail of wax is gone, and the letter is clear of any dripped wax. Also, it's obvious that the long shot and the closeup of Wolsey applying the seal are separate takes: the blob of wax in the long shot is smaller than that in the closeup, and the letter is folded differently (there's more of an overlap in the folded letter in the closeup). See more »
[first spoken lines are over 6 minutes into the film]
...there's the country every second bastard born is fathered by a priest.
[clears throat to get More's attention]
Why, in Utopia, that couldn't be.
Well, there the priests are very holy.
Therefore, very few.
Sir Thomas More:
Is it anything interesting, Matthew?
Bless you, sir, I don't know.
[...] See more »
This is one of my favorite films. It is of perfect length and pacing, and the script is one of the best ever written. The acting, direction, and design of this movie are uniformly excellent. The segue into Henry VIII's entrance is alone reason for seeing the movie. The production design is top-notch, both beautiful and--unlike many "costume dramas"--not so overwhelming as to lose the actors among outrageous sets and costumes. For an adaptation of a stage play, a remarkable proportion of the action taking place outdoors, with More's house at Chelsea being particularly lovely.
It's very easy to see this film superficially as a moral fable, and many people scoff at it as being a stagy morality play. But it's both more subtle and more vibrant that that. The subtlety of Robert Bolt's script lies in its exploration of identity. We're not meant to identify or admire More's religious ideas, which the movie actually tiptoes around. Instead it's what Bolt called More's "adamantine sense of his own self" that the movie really highlights.
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