Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Originally telecast in December of 1988, A Man for All Seasons was the first made-for-TV film produced on behalf of the TNT Cable Service. Charlton Heston makes his film directorial debut herein, and also plays the central role of Sir Thomas More, 16th century lord chancellor of England. Unswerving in his belief of the Pope's supreme authority, Sir Thomas refuses to support King Henry VIII's plan to divorce his wife Catherine of Aragon to marry the (hopefully) fertile Anne Boleyn. Declaring himself head of the Church of England, the King annuls his marriage and weds Anne. In concert with his administrator Cromwell, Henry further demands that all British subjects take an oath to uphold Henry's action. More cannot bring himself to do this, and as a result is imprisoned in the Tower of London. Tried for high treason, More is found guilty on the basis of the false testimony of sycophantic Sir Richard Rich. Sentenced to death, More continues to denounce Henry's behavior, walking proudly towards the headsman secure in the knowledge that he will die "the king's good servant, but God's first." Adapted from the play by Robert Bolt A Man for All Seasons was previously filmed in 1966, with Paul Scofield repeating his stage role as More. Heston's version restores much of the text that had been removed from the earlier film--as well as the ubiquitous expository character "The Common Man", here played by Roy Kinnear. More's harsh but loving wife Alice is played in the remake by Vanessa Redgrave, who'd appeared unbilled as Anne Boleyn in the 1966 version (Arch-conservative Heston and ultra-liberal Redgrave in the same film? Fear not: each respected the other's acting skills, and they got along famously). Heston had previously directed and starred in a London stage revival of Man for All Seasons; this splendid cable-TV version manages to retain all the virtues of that production while remaining a thoroughly cinematic experience.
divorce, execution, faith, God, king, Pope, religion, testimony, treason