Sunday, March 13, 2011

A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (Fred Zinnemann, 1966)


A historical drama that is petrified of history. Fred Zinnemann directs a Robert Bolt play that doesn’t so much tackle historical events (namely the battle of wills between Henry VIII and Thomas More) as cower before them. Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Orson Welles and others enunciate each syllable and hit their marks to the millimetre. Thomas More’s religious fundamentalism is mistaken for the pinnacle of human decency and never questioned. Zinneman’s energies are consumed in conjuring up an aura of respectability – there is no space for insight, imagination or oxygen. It’s the kind of constipated middlebrow pomposity that only exists to sweep up Oscars and quickly disappear into oblivion. It’s The Life of Emile Zola. It’s Frost/Nixon.

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