Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Loved it. One of the best films of its--or any--kind. Scofield as Thomas More is perfect in every way. John Hurt's Richard Rich is fantastically twitchy, and Leo McKern absolutely kills as Cromwell.
Of course most people know the story going in, but nevertheless More's inspiring and costly folly is heart-breaking to watch. Like the Duke of Norfolk in the film, one wants to reach through the screen and choke More, shouting "just sign the damned oath already! Spare yourself!"
Fred Zinneman's direction isn't particularly interesting or artful, but the costumes and sets are magnificent, and the absence of an "activist judge" behind the camera allows the viewer to concentrate on what is being said, and how it is being said, which is what matters here. Directorial innovation and stylistic intrusions can distract rather than illuminate in certain sorts of films, and A Man For All Seasons benefits from Zinneman's cool absence. I call it the "Merchant Ivory School of Filmmaking," though this of course predates Merchant Ivory.
I enjoyed it even more than The Lion in Winter with its much more adventurous actors. And I adored The Lion in Winter.