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A Man for All Seasons (1960)

av Robert Bolt

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3,096294,385 (3.95)106
The classic play about Sir Thomas More, the Lord chancellor who refused to compromise and was executed by Henry VIII. The story in play form of the conflict between Sir Thomas More & Henry VIII.
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Somehow, in my mind I had confused this play with "Murder in the Cathedral". Both dramas about important advisers to English kings who met a bad end. So, apart from any other reason, I'm glad that i have at last sorted out that the are two very different plays and two very different kings and principle characters. It's actually a beautifully crafted play with great character development. Though, maybe Thomas More, comes across as just a bit too saintly for a real person. I think he captures Henry rather well ...bluff, sporty, well aware of the demand on him to produce an heir. And Thomas...more or less self made, clever, gentle, prepared to think the best of everybody, but not prepared to compromise on his religious beliefs. I found it rather fascinating that, given the turmoil around the catholic church and the role of the pope and the politics surrounding Charles of Spain that Thomas couldn't find it in himself to compromise. It certainly would have been easy to do and easy to justify. So I guess, he had just bought, holus-bolus, the story of Jesus giving the keys to the church to Peter and by succession to the current pope. (Despite the fact that there had been more than one pope simultaneously and the orthodox church had long done away with the authority of the pope).
As far as the bible is concerned, you could pretty much take whatever line you wanted to defend. Either Henry marrying Catherine or having the marriage annulled ......could be justified from biblical verses. What I found especially fascinating was that Thomas More was apparently held in such high respect that when Thomas asks Henry.."Then why does Your Grace need my poor support?" Henry replies: "Because you are honest. What's more to the purpose, you're known to be honest". Not a bad reputation to have.
And he can't say that he wasn't warned by Henry..that he (Henry) "would have no opposition".
Over all I found the play quite captivating and fascinating. A great exposé of those tumultuous times.....as Common Man explains....of those most involved in his trials: Cromwell was found guilty of high treason and executed, Norfolk found guilty of high treason but the king died of syphilis one day before he coud sign the death warrant, and Thomas Cranmer was burned alive. And, of course, Sir Thomas More was executed. (Not a great time to be close to the throne). Five stars from me. ( )
  booktsunami | Dec 20, 2023 |
Yesterday I spent 30 minutes grouching to my husband about certain changes being discussed at work that clashed with something in my moral makeup. But, instead of letting that be the end (or the beginning) of the matter/habit, I took it to the manager at lunch. Why? Because it's almost impossible to read this story about More and not want to do something--in the right way-- about wrong things.

But not only that, More (as presented by Bolt) argues for authenticity. Not in the bold, in your face, take it or leave it way that is brandished about on social media, but in the silent, true to beliefs, humbly doing the best that you can way that is seen in the best of men*. He makes the emotional, militant, online petition-signing, meme-sharing, armchair activist** seem hollow, volatile, and unstable.

In an unrelated thought, I wonder if this play would have worked quite as well as it did without Paul Scofield. He created this role just as much as Bolt did, embodied him with strength, humor and certainty that few, I believe, could follow. He, and Dame Wendy Hiller, are the reasons I watch the film and will probably never, even if I have the chance, see a live revival of the production. He leaves impossible shoes to fill.

* See the nice guy at the gym on the elliptical on the end, Gordon B. Hinckley, Larry A Call, etc.
**See "Slacktivist." ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
A gift from a student ( )
  Charles_R._Cowherd | Jul 10, 2021 |
Sir Thomas More—the brilliant nobleman, lawyer, humanist, author of such works as Utopia—was a long-time friend and favorite of Henry VIII, ascending to the position of Lord Chancellor in 1529. Yet he was also a staunch Catholic, and when Henry broke with the Church in 1531 after the Pope had refused to grant him a divorce from Catherine of Aragon, More resigned the Chancellorship. In 1534, Parliament passed a bill requiring all subjects to take an oath acknowledging the supremacy of England's king over all foreign sovereigns—including the Pope. More refused, was imprisoned, and finally was executed in 1535.
  StFrancisofAssisi | Mar 12, 2020 |
This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast-man's laws, not God's-and if you cut them down-and you're just the man to do it-d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

Several years ago I did something stupid, not sure what. It is near certain that I knew at the time. My wife yelled at me. I deserved that, I'm sure of that in hindsight. I sat and read this in one go. It isn't historically accurate but it is compelling. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
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Wood, E. R.Notesmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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When the curtain rises, the set is in darkness but for a single spot on the COMMON MAN, who sits on a big property basket. COMMON MAN: It is perverse!
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