This is a film based on a play based on the true life story of Sir Thomas More, a staunch Catholic who was so firm in his convictions, that he became a martyr for refusing to compromise his beliefs by signing an agreement that would recognize King Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn.
It makes sense that this stroy was an adaptation of a play since it is besaically stage and executed like one for basically the entire running time. This is a historical drama (which the Academy loves), so it makes sense also that this won some of the Big Awards, including Best Picture.
I do love historicla movies, but this is one of those cases where a film that's feverishly historically accurate doesn't always mean it's going to be an enjoyable one...at least not for those looking for something with mainstream appeal and accessibility.
There's basically no action, and it's almost entirely a philosophical discussion/character study about two vastly dfifferent men with extremely clashing views/personalities. I dug it for the most part, but admittedly did find it hard to sit through and kinda boring here and there.
Still though, you gotta give a lot of credit to it for the stellar cinematography, art direction, set design, and costumes. The attention to period details and historical accuracy are also to be appluaded, but it probably couldn't have hurt to put in some more action or somehting just to liven things up on occasion.
The direction is okay, but Zinnemann has done far better work. The writing is quite sharp and really nails the characters and subject matter, but what really sells the film are the performances. Paul Scofield reprises his role from the play, and rightfully earned an Oscar for his superb work. Robvert Shaw was awesome as Henry VIII, and he's definitely an actor worth checking out if all you know of him is his brilliant work in Jaws. Other notables in the cast invlude Vanessa Redgrave as Anne Boleyn, John Hurt as Richasrd RIch, and Orson Welles, whose turn as Cardinal Wolsey is terrific just ofr the sheer fact that it's cool to see him rocking the always photogenic Cardinal robes.
This is a hard film to get into, and more for the patient intellectuals than those who like action oriented history based works, but it's got some great themes and materia lworth discussing, so all in all, it's a fine film, but not one I would necessarily say is totally deserving of Best Picture.