Anne of the Thousand Days

Thinking about ‘Walkabout’ reminded me of the film club organised by a teacher from my secondary school.  The films shown were ones that had some sort of educational dimension or were seen as ‘worthy’ but they were all quality films that had been shown at cinemas in Britain at least a few years before.   I may be wrong but it seemed that back in the 60s and 70s the delay between a film’s release and its first showing on television was longer. That provided film clubs, like the one at my school, with an opportunity to show films that would be new to us.

‘Anne of a Thousand Days’ is an excellent film from 1969 that I would have seen in the early 70s.  We studied the play as well as the period of history but I always loved cinema  and the ability of film to bring stories alive for me, complete with period detail.  This film had two amazing performance at its heart: Richard Burton as King Henry and Genevieve Bujold as Anne Boleyn.  Burton in particular filled the screen.  Subtlety was not his forte so a character as large as Henry the Eighth was a good one.  I also remember Anthony Quayle as Cardinal Wolsey, the person who thought the king’s infatuation with Anne would be a phase; his misjudgment cost him his position.

The plot is straightforward.  The King meets Anne Boleyn and wants her so needs to have his first marriage annulled.  The lengths he goes to achieve this cause the break up of the catholic church in England and its replacement with a Church of England.  At the forefront of his mind is his desire to have a son to rule when he dies.  He thinks this can best be achieved by marrying this woman he has fallen in love with. They marry but a daughter rather than a son is born and a new woman enters Henry’s sights.  His need to be rid of her to leads to further court intrigue.

The best scene of all is in her prison cell in the Tower of London where Anne counts out the days in love, out of love, in favour, as a queen and so on.  Her total is 1,000 years.

‘Anne of the Thousand Days’ is in my hinterland.  What’s in yours?


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