Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
Movie InfoAnne of the Thousand Days is the belated film adaptation of Maxwell Anderson's 1948 stage play. The story concentrates on the romance between Britain's King Henry VIII (Richard Burton) and his ill-fated second wife Anne Boleyn (Genevieve Bujold). After holding out for marriage rather than an illegitimate union, Anne marries Henry after he sheds himself of Katherine of Aragon -- causing a rift between the Crown and the Church in the process. Anne's inability to produce a male heir leads Henry to look about for other suitable mates. Henry's sinister right-hand man Cromwell (John Colicos) arranges for Anne to be condemned on a charge of adultery. She is beheaded, while Henry disconsolately sits in Windsor Castle, regretting this callous example of political expediency. Richard Burton is ideally cast in Anne of the Thousand Days, but it is Genevieve Bujold who delivers the best, most complex performance in the film. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.Login
Critic Reviews for Anne of the Thousand Days
It is a story fit for the second Elizabeth, though it has perhaps one minor fault: the first two hours.
Anne of the Thousand Days is a stunning-acted, sumptuous, grand-scale widescreen drama of the royal bed chamber and political intrigues that created the Church of England.
Interminable plod through the story of Henry the Eighth and Anne Boleyn.
One of those almost unbearably classy movies, like A Man for All Seasons and Becket, that have a way of elevating the reputations of moviemakers without doing much for the art.
Some plucky performance don't manage to embue this historical drama with the regal spectacle the source material deserves.
The performances (by Burton and Bujold in the leads) are decent but the film is dull, overly long, and overwrought--the kind of Royalty picture that impresses Oscar voters.
Bujold gives a sweet and creditable performance, though, and Burton adds some humanity to a character often portrayed simply as a monster. Yet they cannot salvage this sprawling mess.
Audience Reviews for Anne of the Thousand Days
I just caught this the other night on Turner's month of Oscar-related films marathon. If you know me, you know that I'm not Ricard Burton's biggest fan. I know I'm in something of a minority, but seeing him play such a jerk as Henry VIII does nothing to help his cause with me. I mean he was nominated -- although not by me -- as best actor for this role in 1969, but like Hoffman and Voight in Midnight Cowboy, Burton was also up against The Duke as Rooster Cogburn, so you just knew that John Wayne had to be the odds-on favorite -- as in the proverbial handwriting was on the wall. I tell you, when Geneviève Bujold's head comes off at the end, there is nothing I want more than to see Henry's head come off instead. Especially with that disgusting final line about heading off to Mistress Seymour's home once he knows Boleyn is dead. I love the way the movie closes with Bujold's voice-over predicting that little Elizabeth, her daughter, will be greater than any English monarch before her. And arguably, that pronouncement became prophetically true. Bujold herself was nominated for Best Actress, but for once I agree 100% with the Academy: Maggie Smith stands as the hands-down winner for her job in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I'm not really sure why Anthony Quayle was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. I think Jack NIcholson had a better chance for Easy Rider, and I'll 95% agree that Gig Young did deserve it for a great job in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?More
I usually find this sort of historical drama fascinating to read about but a bit dull on film, though "Anne of the Thousand Days" is distinguished by the excellence of its performances. The story covers the rise to power and fall from grace of Anne Boleyn. It also contrasts the fluctuating fortunes of several of the key courtiers of Henry VIII, including Cardinal Wolsey, Sir Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. Perhaps for budgetary reasons, we see next to nothing of the vanished Tudor London; the action takes place against a backdrop of National Trust/English Heritage exteriors and cardboard and polystyrene studio interiors. Interestingly, the spectacular cinematic potential of this turbulent age -- the reformation of the church, the dissolution of the monasteries, the burning of 'heretics' and the hanging, drawing and quartering of the treasonous -- is deliberately downplayed in favour of the causative machinations of a well-insulated court. I'm all for strong portrayals of women on film, but if the real Boleyn was half as insolent as Genevieve Bujold's I doubt whether she'd have kept her head as long as she did. Bujold never looked lovelier than she does here, and she and Richard Burton spar wonderfully well together.More
I kind of wish that there was actually a mention of the title in the lyric to the song "Land of a Thousand Dances" so that I could replace it with this film's title, largely because the title "Land of a Thousand Dances" is pretty cool for a song whose lyric could have seriously used a cool line. I can't believe that there was a time when Cannibal & the Headhunters wasn't the name of some kind of an extreme metal band, but there was, and it was a heck of a ways back, before even this film. Yes, people, before boys were playing with Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces, they were playing to Anne of a Thousand Days. No, Geneviève Bujold was cute, so that was an offensive, if slightly confusing joke about a young man's special time, but hey, at least it wasn't as creepy as Hugo: Man of a Thousand Faces. Haunting and happy boyhood memories aside, first it was "A More for All Seasons", and then this film, so for a while there, if the Golden Globes weren't giving Best Drama to a film about Henry II, then it was giving it to a film about the Henry VIII-Anne Boleyn affair. Ah, the latter '60s was quite the time for saucy, scandalous royal affairs and sophisticated writing, which is a formula that, well, wasn't going to work for too much longer. Now, this film works just fine, but it works for only so long, especially when it is very much more of the same.
One of the biggest issues with the film is its being not nearly as unique as it could have been, having a few refreshing spots, but conforming a little too much to the then-popular formula of dialogue-driven royal melodramas, while hitting trope after trope with the dialogue and characterization of most any film of this nature, until even those who are willing to forget their history will be hard-pressed to not see where exactly things are going. It doesn't help that the conflicts feel manufactured, because many of the romantic dramatic aspects of this true story which can be embraced as factual are hard to buy into, what with all of the contrived elements of storytelling which ambitiously work to flesh out the depths of a story of only so much consequence. As if the story concepts of "A Man for All Seasons", "Becket" and "The Lion in Winter" weren't minimalist enough in their overt intimacy, this film is really light in scale, and even in consequence, with plenty of sauce and potential, but only so much dynamicity to its tightly focusing on characters who aren't endearing enough on paper to completely carry this drama. Well-portrayed enough to be intriguing, the characters have a good bit of inspiration behind them to sell their questionable traits, which cannot be consistently ignored, at least within the leads, with Henry VIII being a humanized, but somewhat sleazy and proud king who would challenge his faith to get what wants, while even Anne Boleyn feels corruptible, and more stubborn than self-respecting, with bickerings that don't seem to work in enough sense of motivation to sell her changes of heart, and therefore get to be monotonous. Well, the conflicts between Henry and Boleyn are monotonous until the film jarringly shifts it focus to Henry's conflicts with the church, then to Henry's and Boleyn's conflicts as a married couple, for this is an uneven film that would be more consistent if it was tighter, and not so bloated with - nay - defined by one draggy dialogue piece after another, and filler, and inconsistencies, until it begins to wear you down. The film has a lot of respectable aspects, enough so to engross right away, but after a while of repetitious conventions, melodramatics and chatter from questionable characters, the investment is loosened. The final product ultimately falls as a generally underwhelming, but it never loses so much of your investment that it fails to adequately engage, being mighty improvable, but tasteful, even in its aesthetic value.
Well, the aesthetic value of the film is a little limited, in that it is restrained in its kick, and formulaic, but it is there, to one extent or another, whether it be found within Georges Delerue's underused, but solid score, or within Arthur Ibbetson's tightly framed and well-lit, if colorfully underwhelming cinematography. More than anything, Lionel Couch's art direction is aesthetically sound, with Maurice Carter's production designs and Margaret Furse's costume designs being lavish, as well as complimentary to the immersion value of this distinctly intimate period drama. While minimalist in its intimacy with problematic characters, and therefore as rich with natural shortcomings as it is with conventions, this film's subject matter is intriguing, with some potential established through historically and dramatically valuable themes on the political and personal conflicts surrounding Henry VIII's affairs, particularly with Anne Boleyn. There is some intrigue to salvage, and if no one else manages to draw upon it, then it is Charles Jarrott, whose steady direction worsens slow spots, though not nearly as much as it could have, as he establishes some subtle resonance through a fine orchestration of light style, sharp writing highlights, and strong performances. Perhaps the material is too limited for truly strong performances to be delivered, but plenty players carry his or her own weight, with the lovely Geneviève Bujold being convincing, if occasionally melodramatic as the simultaneously strong-willed and vulnerable Anne Boleyn, while leading man Richard Burton truly becomes Henry VIII, with a royal charisma, as well as an intensity which captures the vulnerability of a proud, but flawed man of power. The characters are too questionable to embrace by their own right, but they're portrayed so well that it's hard to not be endeared, although it helps that this talented cast is handed decent, if somewhat lacking material, for although Bridget Boland's, John Hale's and Richard Sokolove's script is conventional, contrived and uneven in pacing and focus, it has its tightly extensive elements, and when it doesn't the dialogue is sharp enough to hold your attention between the heights in tasteful dramatic storytelling. Even the script has its strong elements, thus, this film has the makings to rewarding, just as it also has the makings of a relative misfire, and although the final product left me a little cold, there is enough to hold your investment with decency, even if it could have delivered on more.
When the thousand days are done, conventions, melodramatics and problematic characters back a thin story, told unevenly and aimlessly, until enough momentum is lost for the final product to fall as underwhelming, in spite of the decent scoring and cinematography, strong art direction, thoughtful direction, memorable performances by Geneviève Bujold and Richard Burton, and highlights in clever writing which make Charles Jarrott's "Anne of the Thousand Days" a reasonably intriguing, if challenging account on the affairs of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.
2.5/5 - Fair
Anne of the Thousand Days Quotes
Discuss Anne of the Thousand Days on our Movie forum!