Classic Movie Review: Anne Of The Thousand Days (1969)
King Henry VIII is remembered in history as a self-centered, somewhat maniacal character who had a penchant for disposing of his wives. This king established the Church of England in a desperate attempt to effect a divorce from his wife, Katherine of Aragon, and thereafter blamed his wives for the failure to produce a living son as his heir to the throne. This is the story of his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who has been painted by history alternately as an innocent caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and a powerful seductress.
Anne Of The Thousand Days (1969)
King Henry VIII of England (Richard Burton) grows tired of his marriage to Queen Katherine, which he is convinced is cursed and that no living son may result from the union. The king’s increasingly wandering eye settles on young Anne Boleyn (Genevieve Bujold), the daughter of one of his lords who is currently seeking permission to marry. Quite taken with the attractive girl, the king refuses her bid to marry and pursues him for herself. What ensues is the tail of that pursuit, as well as a look at the palace intrigue against the Lady Anne.
Welcome back to the days when acting actually required some talent rather than just good looks and an anorexic tendency. Anne of the Thousand Days is a great showcase of some outstanding acting talent including Irene Papas, John Colicos, Anthony Quayle and others in addition to the talents of Burton and Bujold. Attention has been paid to talent and screen presence, a fact that is obvious from the opening scene until the end of the film.
The costumes, setting, and script was top-notch. Film quality, considering the movie was made in 1969, was absolutely outstanding. True, by today’s standards the quality of the filming itself wasn’t quite up to specs, but I certainly never would have guessed it at 40-year-old technology. This kind of attention to the atmosphere and background in a film just isn’t seen in recently-released movies.
As for historical accuracy, I noticed a couple of minor flaws, though these had more to do with minor chronological issues than anything else. For the most part, it stayed true to every account of this period that I’ve read.
A quick comparison to recent films on the same subject…while accuracy was about on par with the HBO series of The Tudors, starring Jonathan Rheys Meyers, and the visuals of the HBO series outweighed those in Anne of the Thousand Days by virtue of having access to the newest cinematographic technology now available. However, the acting in the series couldn’t compare to that of this older movie, and Anne was infinitely more likeable in Anne of the Thousand Days.
The other movie I’ve seen featuring this story of Anne Boleyn was The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman and Eric Bana as the royal couple. While The Other Boleyn Girl and The Tudors stayed true to the ages of the characters involved where Anne of the Thousand Days did not, The Other Boleyn Girl was inferior in many ways to the others. Primarily, many of the actors actually looked like they were acting and the overall feel was not of the quality one would expect in a movie made in 2008.
Final Thoughts On Anne Of The Thousand Days (1969)
Overall, Anne of the Thousand Days stands out from its more recent contenders in nearly every way. True, many of the names in this cast are no longer known, but in their time they carved careers based entirely on talent and worked hard in every role. Of the three, Anne of a Thousand Days stands out in acting, script, atmosphere, and just the overall feel of the movie. If you enjoy historical dramas or have an interest in this part of history, Anne of the Thousand Days is a must see.
A couple of trivia points;
- Received an impressive 11 Oscar nominations, losing the Best Picture award to Midnight Cowboy.
It did, however, take just the one – rather unsurprisingly for the wonderful costume design.
- Kate Burton ( Richards daughter ) made her screen debut appearing as a Serving Maid
- Elizabeth Taylor appeared as a Masked Courtesan ( both her and Kate were uncredited appearances )