Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Thomases: Sympathetic Cromwell, Sleazy More

     Wolf Hall (2015; based on Hilary Mantel’s novels, who also worked on the screenplays) [D:Peter Kosminsky  Mark Rylance, Damian Lewis, Claire Foy] Six episodes that give us a Thomas Cromwell quite different from the cynical villain of Bolt’s A Man For All Seasons, and a sleazier Thomas More, too. The dangers of living in a polity in which personal loyalty to an erratic monarch was paramount, and an careless word or phrase could condemn you to death, are nicely explored. The dircetor wanted a few too many closeups of a silent Cromwell, etc, and the pace is slower than we’ve become used to lately, but it’s an impressive piece of work. Apparently it was filmed with ambient light only, a stunt made possible by recent advances in digital light sensors. Much of the action is set in dark interiors, I suppose to underline the darkness of the human heart.
     I now want to read the novels. Mantel clearly sides with Cromwell rather than More. Henry VIII is shown as self-deluding but respecting Cromwell because Cromwell won’t play the sycophancy game. Anne Boleyn is as much a victim of her own ambitions as of her family’s scheming for power. Wolsey is a wily old man who failed to achieve what his master wanted; Cromwell’s loyalty to him guides his plans, but at the end it’s unclear how much Cromwell wanted Anne’s death as a just punishment for bringing about Wolsey’s downfall. ***

1 comment:

Jacques Menard said...

It is true that the pace in Wolf Hall was not as frenetic as we have come to anticipate. I like that.
What impressed my about this actor was the manner in which he would simply pause and say nothing when someone else had said something foolish. His silence was often more effective than a replique. It allowed the speaker to ponder the foolishness of their comment. Dare I say it is a good lawyer's technique to use the pregnant pause to effect?
As for the dark interiours, the effect went hand in hand with my failing hearing. (:-))