A Man for all Seasons

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Director:                        Fred Zinnemann
Screenplay:                   Robert Bolt
Producer:                       Fred Zinnemann
E xecutive Producer:    William N. Graf
Original Music:               Georges Delerue
Cinematography:          Ted Moore

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Zinnemann's adaptation of the Robert Bolt play remains an all time masterpiece. He tells a quiet story of faith, courage and steadfastness that is so missing today. It portrays the life and death of Sir Thomas More, a prominent member of the court of English King Henry VIII. Grounded in historical fact, this movie vividly tells the story of More's stand against the king's betrayal of the law of God - a stand that would cost him dearly.

When the Catholic King Henry VIII sought to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon, so he could instead marry Anne Boleyn, his will was opposed by the Roman papacy as being repugnant to the clear teachings of scripture. Rather than submit, Henry chose to rebel by having Parliament pass a law to establish the Church of England and declare Henry the head of it. In order to legitimise his claim to this new title, however, Henry needed the support of his members of state, not the least of which was Thomas More.

In a brilliant performance, Paul Scofield depicts Thomas in his steadfast assertion of integrity and conscience toward the law of God. His chief accusers are repeatedly confounded at Thomas' evasion of their clever snares and manipulations, designed at first to gain More's cooperation but later to get him to incriminate himself. Cromwell and the others ultimately are forced to resort to perjury, corruption, and a kangaroo court to ‘convict’ Thomas of the crime of high treason, and to eliminate him as the last obstacle to King Henry's ambitions. Schofield as More is magnificent, combining a stoical adherence to truth on the one hand, with a dry wit on the other, and this is an accuracy of depiction that could not have been drawn from the words of the script.

Films such as this are rare today; 'A Man for All Seasons' turns not on action sequences, battles past or present or on a love affair. It is neither a comedy nor a tragedy in the classic sense. In a word, it would seem to have little to recommend it - however, it is one of the best film ever produced. The director Fred Zimmermann resisted the urge to provide orchestral music as a background to many of the scenes; indeed, through much of the film, there is no music at all, as the drama itself carries the weight of the narrative and atmosphere. The cinematographer, Ted Moore, as well as the director received Academy Awards for their work.











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A man for all seasons