1966 • A Man for All Seasons

A Man for All Seasons

Especially summer and fall...

Sunday night, Lauren and I settled in to watch the 1966 Best Picture winner, A Man For All Seasons, the 35th movie we’ve seen from the list so far.  Coming off a few very solid movies before it (The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and The Apartment), it would have a lot to live up to in order to continue the success of the 1960s.

This movie is exactly two hours long.  I say it can be divided into two unequal halves: the half that was both boring and confusing, if that’s possible; and the half that kinda started to make sense of everything and was fairly tolerable.  Unfortunately, the tolerable part of the movie was at best 35 minutes.

A Man For All Seasons stars Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More, a 15th century English Chancellor who is loved and admired by all.  One day, the King of England, Henry VIII, decides he wants to have a son, but his wife can’t successfully bear children, so he wants the marriage annulled so he can marry someone who can give him his son.  In order for the Pope to make it official, Thomas More must give his permission, but he refuses.

Why does he refuse?  We don’t really learn the truth until the very end of the movie, which made the rest of the movie difficult to follow.  Why was Sir Thomas More so opposed to agreeing to this that he would risk literally everything—his family, his friends, his position as Chancellor, his life—to keep Henry VIII from having a son?  To me, More just seemed like a stubborn jerk who was merely exploiting his own power.  Later, when we learn his reasons, it begins to make more sense.

What I also didn’t understand was why everyone cared so much that More wouldn’t agree to this annulment.  He was stricken from his role of Chancellor, so who cares what he thinks anymore?  Apparently this is a true story, so I can’t fault the movie, but why is one man imprisoned and sentenced to death for disagreeing with the king on a particular matter?  The whole thing just went way over my head.

I didn’t much care for A Man for All Seasons, despite some great acting performances from Scofield and Wendy Hiller.  It’s not my idea of an entertaining movie.  It kinda reminded me of Doubt, how a whole movie could revolve around something so trivial as one person’s opinion on a particular matter.  Any movie based in the 15th century dealing with foreign royalty sounds terrible to me, so I admittedly did not go in open-minded.

This was originally a play and I feel it would best be suited for the stage, much like My Fair Lady.  Clearly this is one movie that will not stand out to me once this project is over.  If there’s anything positive to take away from it, perhaps it’s the history lesson.  I give it a 4/10, and a ranking in the bottom third.

Next up, 1967’s In the Heat of the Night with Sidney Poitier.

2 Comments

  1. You and I must have watched a different movie. I saw A Man for All Seasons when I was 10 years old and I had no trouble understanding why More had to do what he did. Maybe it’s due to being Jewish and having a whole lot of ancestors who died for their beliefs. Also, the urgency of Scofield’s acting and the incredible scene where he (as More) matches wits with Wolsey (Orson Welles) crackled with tension and had me completely spellbound!
    PS: Forgive me for being a smart ass, but the film is set in the 16th century, not the 15th. More got the chop in 1535.

  2. […] speeches by royalty interesting. So I admittedly went in a little sour, expecting something like A Man for All Seasons. But oh, how I was […]


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