I had remembered watching a tiny bit of this British film in secondary school when I was doing history, I knew that I had to see the whole thing at some point in the future, so when I got the opportunity I did. Basically set in Tudor England, King Henry VIII (Keith Michell) is on his deathbed, he reminisces on his long reign, and especially the crucial part his six wives played, without producing the male heir he desired to take his place and prevent civil wars. His first wife and queen was Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon (Frances Cuka), but all of the children she produced died, apart from daughter Mary, so he annulled the marriage and the divorced, this was his longest marriage, for 23 years. Henry's second wife was Anne Boleyn (Charlotte Rampling), while courting her she refused to sleep with Henry until they were married, she was a mysterious woman, with a sixth finger, so some believed her to be carrying out witchcraft, she also failed to produce a son, only daughter Elizabeth, they divorced, and she was later executed and beheaded for "infidelity", they were married for over 2 years. Henry's third wife was Jane Seymour (Jane Asher), who Henry met with the help of chief minister Thomas Cromwell (Donald Pleasence Donald Pleasence), protégé of Cardinal Wolsey (John Bryans), she does finally give Henry a son, Edward, but she dies soon after the birth, they were married for just over a year, and Edward later died aged 15 from tuberculosis. Henry's fourth wife, who he was advised to marry for diplomatic reasons, with Cromwell pushing for the lady, was German princess Anne of Cleves (Jenny Bos), Henry was initially shown a portrait of her, but was disappointed by her true appearance, he reluctantly marries her, but after only 6 months they divorce. Henry's fifth wife was Catherine Howard (Lynne Frederick), Anne Boleyn's young cousin, she was pressured to marry him by her uncle, but Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (Bernard Hepton) informs Henry she had liaisons before the marriage, he initially refuses to believe it, but Cranmer secures a confession, she also admits to an affair with Thomas Culpepper (Robin Sachs), she is beheaded, they were married for just over a year. Henry's sixth and final wife was Catherine Parr (Barbara Leigh- Hunt), he approached her while elderly, she is at first reluctant to marry, but Henry confesses to needing companionship, she becomes a loving stepmother to the royal children Mary, Elizabeth and Edward. After all the flashbacks have ended it returns to Henry VIII in his final moments of life, with Catherine Parr and Princess Mary by his side, Archbishop Cranmer is summoned to take his final confession, but while holding his hand, and before he can finish, Henry VIII finally dies from chronic heart failure. Also starring Michael Gough as Duke of Norfolk, Brian Blessed as Earl of Suffolk and Michael Goodliffe as Thomas More. Michell had previously played Henry VIII in the six-part television series The Six Wives of Henry VIII, obviously each episode focused on each of the six wives, he gives a standard performance, I agree Pleasance is more interesting as the devious Cromwell, and Cranmer gets his moments, as do all the supporting cast members, the costumes are good as well, I paid no attention at all to the political stuff, I just concentrated on the King with each wife, especially number 2, as an overall film, it's not a bad historical drama. Worth watching!
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