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Henry VIII * Pete Travis * 2003

For a mere E 9,- I bought the DVDof these mini series. There are two episodes of 1,5 hour. Why they have to be on two DVDs is a think I don’t understand, but who cares? Ray Winstone is Henry VIII. Winstone played in films such as ‘King Arthur’, ‘Ripley’s Game’ and ‘Sexy Beast’. Even though the total running time is three hours, this production gives a rather shallow overview of the reigh of Henry VIII (1491-1547). Much stress is laid on the fact that at his deathbed, king Henry VII told his son that the most important thing to do was to produce a male heir. This proved to be a bigger problem than it sounds: Henry got nothing but daughters and one stilborn son. The will to live up to his fathers request, Henry switches wives frequently.
But there are also political sides to the story which make the film more interesting. First, Henry has to think off ways to be able to marry again. His first wife (Catherine of Aragon) was the choice of Henry’s father, since Aragon was Spanish. Henry had to find a legal way to be able to get a divorce, so Aragon was falsely accused and persecuted. Then Henry married Anne Boleyn, a young women who also proved unable to provide a son. She was also false accused and then decapitated. Bolyn was replaced by another young woman names Jane Seymour but she died giving birth to the only non-bastard son. It took a few years before Henry was over this sad fact, but then a (for his enemies) strategical marriage was arranged with Anne of Cleves from Germany. Inspite of the juridical heavy contract underlying this marriage, Henry found a way to sack her and marry the 30 years younger Kathryn Howard. Kathryn cheated on Henry with someone of her own age, so she had her head cut off. His last years, king Henry spent with Katherine Parr.
Besides all the intruigues of the kind himself, there are other interesting happenings in this part of history. For example: however Henry was a devout Catholic he was the drop Rome in order to be able to get a divorce. This is how the Church Of England came into existence. In the same period Protestantism spread throughout Europe, so the religious conflicts grew larger. Either or not on religious grounds, there were different people who wanted to get rid off king Henry, people closer to the king than he may have known. You get a nice view on how these ‘politics’ work(ed).
Like I said, sometimes the subjects are a bit too shallow. You may get the idea that the marriage with Parr lasted for only a few months, while it was actually four years. Still this is a nice history lesson. What happens here is just before “Bloody Mary” and the famous “virgin queen Elizabeth” (who are Henry’s daughters). For this price, not a bad buy at all!

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