Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Tudors: Season One

Well, my wife and I just finished watching Showtime's The Tudors: The First season last night (a Christmas gift from the in-laws). And I must say, it was a rather amazing bit of film making. Now, I am fully aware that as a historical guide the show leaves volumes to be desired. But I must say that I am rather in agreement with the creator when he said that "any confusion created by the changes [from history] is outweighed by the interest the series may inspire in the period and its figures." Just so long as people go into it knowing that this is no more history than a Shakespearean history, they they really should be okay.

I really was impressed with the casting and the writing of the show. Natalie Dormer was absolutely riveting in the role of Ann Boleyn. In the show, Boleyn is written as a highly educated and headstrong seductress who actually develops feelings for Henry. While I have no idea how accurate this is, the dramatic portrayal is powerful, and Dormer's ability to piratically look into the camera and look through you with a very dark, deliberate stare just makes the character that much more amazing.

While again, I know little of the personality of the real Henry VIII, Jonathan Rhys Meyers depiction of a mercurial, arrogant, and spoiled monarch was actually captivating, even thought I really had no sympathy for the man. While I am not normally one to consider profanity a major contributing point to a character, Henry uses the F word sparingly enough in the show that when he does say it (actually, he screams it most of the time), its like setting off a landmine in the middle of the set. Despite the fact that I probably actually out-mass the actor by at least a hundred pounds, I was actually stunned during these scenes because his depiction of an enraged man was so complete. I found myself actually shaken by the volatility of his temper.

Surprisingly, I think my favorite character in the first season was that of Cardinal Wolsey. This is a considerable surprise to me because Wolsey (the real person) was a well documented politician, administrator, architect, and was, more or less, corrupt to the core. While wearing the garments of a Cardinal, he advances secular interests (and his own on a large number of occasions) while always trying to curry favor with the king.

While the specific corruptions depicted in the show can likely be debated and picked apart to no end, I must say that Sam Neal's acting resonated with me from about the third episode on. I never really felt sorry for the man, he made his own bed, and ultimately admitted to himself that he had to sleep in it. I think the scene that haunts me the most was Wolsey's final scene in the show, where he is in prison under charge of treason. its there, in a touching monologue, that the character makes peace with God for what has happened, and what will happen still. The speech and the cinematography were priceless, spot on, and amazing. While I still felt no sympathy for the man, I did find a new-found respect for the character.

I'm not normally one to complain about nudity in a Showtime TV show (I mean, its Showtime, the're almost as bad a Playboy, so its not like you don't know what your getting into when you watch them), But I will say that I think the director was trying to raise a few eyebrows with some of his scenes. The major eye-popper for me was the opening scene in the season finally. If you've seen it, than you know what I'm taking about, if not... Well, personally I consider you fortunate because I felt the scene in question to be inappropriate and gratuitous.

However, in total, I felt that the show stood up to scrutiny as a dramatic piece well, and should be watched by SCAers if for no other reason than to get a glimpse into the types of court politics, dynamics and interactions that probably did shape the character of the English court in the late fifteen hundreds.

We'll probably start Season 2 next either this week, or next.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

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