Anne of the Thousand Days is the belated film adaptation of Maxwell Anderson's 1948 stage play. The story concentrates on the romance between Britain's King Henry VIII (Richard Burton) and his ill-fated second wife Anne Boleyn (Genevieve Bujold). After holding out for marriage rather than an illegitimate union, Anne marries Henry after he sheds himself of Katherine of Aragon -- causing a rift between the Crown and the Church in the process. Anne's inability to produce a male heir leads Henry to look about for other suitable mates. Henry's sinister right-hand man Cromwell (John Colicos) arranges for Anne to be condemned on a charge of adultery. She is beheaded, while Henry disconsolately sits in Windsor Castle, regretting this callous example of political expediency. Richard Burton is ideally cast in Anne of the Thousand Days, but it is Genevieve Bujold who delivers the best, most complex performance in the film.
by Hal Erickson synopsis