The latest TV show I’ve been catching up on is Showtime’s sexy series The Tudors about King Henry VIII of England and his various wives. I’m almost through watching Season 2 out of the three seasons that have aired so far. A final season 4 is supposed to air soon to wrap-up the series. The Tudors is a visual wonderland of architecture, landscape, and fashion. The costumes and make-up work are unbelievable in their creative and colorful design…as is so often the case in these period pieces. While the show does take some creative license with the accepted factual history of Henry VIII and the various characters surrounding him, I for one don’t really care. The reality is that when you make a story into a movie or a dramatic television show, you have to make the story and the characters work for the viewer to be entertained and interested. So I find that if I am enjoying the story, I’m ok with it only being “true” on screen or “based” on a true story. I think some filmmakers are so careful to be 100% faithful to “fact” that they craft a boring movie that is true instead of an interesting movie that stretches the “truth”. At the end of the day, we really don’t know what actually happened almost 500 years ago. Historians are now known to record history with a pretty biased point of view…even in today’s modern world with millions of points of view.
Along with the look and design of The Tudors, the acting is phenomenal and the show has a very sexy and modern feel to it. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is perfectly suited to Henry VIII and Natalie Dormer is seductively thrilling as Anne Boleyn. This show reminds me of one of my other favorite historical films made in recent years: Elizabeth (1998) starring Cate Blanchett, Joseph Fiennes and Geoffrey Rush. Directed by Shekhar Kapur, Elizabeth is really the stylistic pre-cursor to The Tudors series. It’s the story of King Henry VIII’s controversial daughter with his second “illegitimate” wife Anne Boleyn, so in terms of story, it’s a “sequel”, but without Elizabeth, I doubt The Tudors would exist.
Queen Elizabeth I was the first woman monarch to rule with the respect, love and fear of a King. And Cate Blanchett made her mark as Elizabeth, and as an actress, with this role. Shakespeare in Love (1998) won the Best Picture Oscar in 1998, but I think Elizabeth was actually the better overall film of the two…both movies are good though. And Saving Private Ryan was the movie that should have won the Oscar that year! I’m still burning mad at that controversial best picture race.