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on July 16, 2007
I was so glad to hear that both films were being released as a duel set. "Anne of the Thousand Days" and "Mary Queen of Scots" are independent enough to stand alone, but even more charming when watched back to back, since the latter references minor details in the former.

"Anne of the Thousand Days" is the story of Anne Boleyn and how she was pursued by Henry VIII at the cost of his marriage and the fate of England's understanding with the Catholic church. It is both a charming retelling and one that has a particular bite to it, particularly as Anne's world starts to fall apart when Henry's eye is cast upon the beautiful Jane Seymour. For a late sixties production, the value of filmmaking is excellent; the costuming is absolutely gorgeous, and the performances are memorable. If nothing else, Anne's final speech to her husband while imprisoned in the Tower of London will linger with you -- that it will be their daughter, Elizabeth, who is remembered for her reign.

"Mary Queen of Scots" does not deal merely with the title lady, but also her cousin Elizabeth, whose performance is beyond brilliance. It does dally a bit with the facts but no one really cares since it is presented in such an interesting manner. There are some gruesome aspects that seem a bit startling in contrast with the beauty of the film, but nevertheless it carries quite an impact, and the chance to see Mary and Elizabeth head to head in a couple of different scenes is well worth your time. I particularly liked the depiction of Elizabeth as something of a jealous, temperamental woman, since she was known for her tantrums, just like her dear father.

I pre-ordered this the moment I learned about it, and look forward to viewing both films in all their former glory. And if you're anything like me, a fan of the Tudor generations, you'll want to add it to your collection as well.
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on September 5, 2008
I realize it can be tiresome for reviewers to expect popular history movies to be on the spot when it comes to historical accuracy, but frankly these movies are sometimes all the general public has to make historical judgements. Therefore, I'm going to be tiresome.

The movie "Mary, Queen of Scots" was very nice to look at, but it fell into the movie industry's natural temptations to sensationalize at the expense of historical accuracy(why that was necessary is beyond me, since her life was sensational enough as it was).

I am not referring to the typical charge that Mary never met Elizabeth, which is a mistake made not only in "Mary, Queen of Scots," but in other movie treatments of Mary (such as the recent British television series on Elizabeth).

No, I'm referring to the depiction of Mary's relationship with Lord Bothwell. In the movie she falls in love with the bawdy Scottish Lord who killed her husband, Darnley. In reality, as you would see from reading the definitive biography of Mary by Antonia Fraser, Mary was actually a victim of not only Bothwell's treachery, but that of the other Scottish lorders who plotted with Bothwell to kill Darnley. Bothwell actually kidnapped and raped Mary. He then told her all of this was done at the request of her powerful lords. She married Bothwell only to accomodate the lords and to bring peace. It backfired with the very lords who consipired with Bothwell turned against him, and eventually against Mary. That is how she lost her crown. Some of the very people who should have been protecting her (including her half brother) then concocted conspiracy theories to defame her good name--all to make way for them to rule in her absence.

Complicated, yes. But not only true, but more interesting than the love sick Queen falling for a Scottish hunk--as it is depicted in the film. Mary completely lost her head in love only once, and it was NOT for Bothwell, but for the hapless Darnley whom he murdered.

The movie also suffers from the admittedly difficult task of telling the long life story of a person without losing dramatic effect. The movie rushes through Mary's life in a bewildering blur of changing scenes and costumes. But as it does, it unfortunately shortchanges the the most dramatic and important episodes of Mary's life--namely, the allegations of consipiracies that led to her execution and the trial.

Again, understandable for a movie, but if you want the truth about Mary, read Fraser's book.
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on June 25, 2007
This is a beautifully done and fairly accurate movie about the short-lived romance of Anne Boleyn and Henry Tudor. The costumes are wonderful, if not altogether accurate for the period. It is one of the best movies done about the Tudor scandal, though it only covers Anne's story. My only question is this: Why is Catherine of Aragon ALWAYS cast as a modern hispanic woman??? There are several portraits of the lady, all showing her to have been a pale red-head. Spanish royalty of that period were very aryan, thank you very much, all you casting directors out there!!!
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VINE VOICEon September 24, 2007
Great Movies. Watching Anne of the Thousand Days as an adult, I was surprised to see so many moral implications in the decisions of the protagonists, from Thomas Moore's refusal to renounce his beliefs, to Anne's choice of offering her daughter a chance to become queen at the expense of leaving her an orphan.

I was slightly disappointed with the package. Despite the thumbs up on having each movie on a separate DVD, the movies do not have an option to select an individual chapter. (there are chapters and you can jump from one to the next, for example in order to get to chapter 10 you have to jump through 1 - 9 instead of going to a separate screen to select chapter 10, like on 99% of DVD-s out there ...). The image is shaking in some minor instances - this may have something to do with the transfer.
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on August 28, 2007
I've been waiting for "Anne" to come out on DVD for years! I saw it the year it came out when we were on a family vacation in Florida and fell in love with the movie. Genevieve Bujold is a feisty, flirty, and highly ambitious Anne Boleyn. "Mary" is an excellent movie as well--Redgrave creates a queen who rules with her heart instead of her head, which leads to her downfall.
It's about time these two films became available.
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VINE VOICEon September 14, 2008
Here we have two terrific films, appropriately packaged together. You get two DVDs packaged in a single case, each individually labeled. Perhaps if the distributor would have included Cromwell (1970, Richard Harris) it would have been the ultimate CD package ever, (considering the great price in this instance).

"Anne of the Thousand Days" is the superior of the two entries for a couple of reasons. First, it stars Richard Burton whom, as expected, plays his role brilliantly. Secondly, all the scenes are brightly lit and colorful, thereby overcoming a frequent problem with films such as these.

The story is a well-known one about the first failed marriage of Henry VIII of England and his solution to rid himself of this unwanted wife so that he could pursue his lust with a second, the lovely Anne Boleyn (circa 1525 C.E.) The tale is a complicated one but this film yields the story in a coherent and comprehensible manner. Henry was initially guided to marry his recently dead older brother's wife (Catherine, a Catholic), a princess of Spain whom was said to have not consummated her marriage with Henry's brother. She had a child, Mary, but produced no male heir which Henry desperately desired.

In order to rid himself of Catherine and marry Anne, Henry had to proclaim himself to be head of the church of England, thus the Pope had him ex-communicated. Still, he married Anne who produced yet another female child, Elizabeth. (So do you see why the next film in this package is "Mary Queen of Scots"?). You probably know what happened with Anne as a result of her failure to produce a male heir for Henry but I'll stop there anyway.

The focus of this 1969 film is centered on how Anne, having seen her own older sister's mistake of becoming Henry's mistress and receiving nothing, learned to exploit her own sexual power over the King to entice him into marriage. She is portrayed as both evil (in her power-monging) and good (as a devoted mother). This is a pretty fair rendering of the actual story.

This film was directed by Charles Jarrott and the original music (very good!) was composed by Georges Delerue. It runs at an epic length for a full 2 hours, 26 minutes.

The second film of the package, "Mary Queen of Scots," is of course a follow-up to the first movie, albeit Henry VIII had many wives after Anne Boleyn and a great deal of politics transpired in the period between the two. Still, "Mary Queen of Scots" seems a natural sequence for this movie package.

The cinematography in this 1971 feature is excellent and the brisk writing moves this one right along, again a frequent complication with such films. The scenes, sets, scenery, and casting are all excellent here. Vanessa Redgrave plays Mary Queen of Scots (Mary Stuart) and Glenda Jackson plays her cousin, Elizabeth I.

This film was more difficult for the writers in that Mary Stuart was looked at, and is still viewed, differently by various people and factions -- some still consider her to be conniving and evil while others see her as a heroine and a heraldic victim of Elizabeth I. This film leans more toward the latter view, so the correctness of the history here is somewhat called into question. You can tell which way the wind is going to blow in the film, though, because Elizabeth is made up to LOOK mean and evil while Mary's appearance is lovely.

Mary returns to Scotland from France where her husband (the king) had died and so she accedes as the rightful heir to the Scottish throne. Her half-brother becomes her advisor but he clearly has his own agenda. Mary makes some missteps in love and in marriage which is mostly what led to her ultimate demise.

At one point, she is forced to meet with her cousin Elizabeth face-to-face in England (a "fact" which many astute historians still assert never happened) and the meeting does not turn out to Mary's benefit. I'll stop there to avoid a spoiler but most folks are aware of the conclusion of this sordid tale.

Again, this is a fine film and while it's not quite as good as "Anne of the Thousand Days," it still fully earns the five stars. It was directed by Charles Jarrott and the original music was by John Barry and Sidney Margo (the latter being uncredited). This film runs for 2 hours, 12 minutes.

Both movies are Universal releases and they are beautifully conveyed in color, letterbox format. When I received this DVD package, the shrink wrap had a "Made in Mexico" sticker on it, a fact that appears not at all to have affected the quality of these excellent film prints.

These two DVDs (in a single package) are high-up amongst the treasures of my ever-expanding film collection and I highly recommend them.
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on September 22, 2007
The film world in the 1960s and 1970s exhibited a fascination with Tudor England as demonstrated by a number of fine films and PBS/BBC television productions: A Man for All Seasons (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days(1969), Mary Queen of Scots(1971), Elizabeth R (1972). And The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970). Recently that fascination has returned with cable productions of Elizabeth I, and The Tudors, and the anticipated Elizabeth the Golden Age. Universal Studios has determined to use two of the earlier films in part as promotion for this October's release of Elizabeth the Golden Age. The fact that Anne of the Thousand Days and Mary Queen of Scots should be released on a single DVD set would otherwise be curious indeed. Together as a promotional DVD or separate, no matter, many viewers will just be happy to see these films released in this format. They are both tour de force productions that show off the acting talents of major actors. And it should be noted neither pretends to be purely historical; they are historical dramas. And both are commendable even with the passing of time. Anne of the Thousand Days gives us one of the better later performances of Richard Burton as Henry VIII, and a young Genevieve Bujold as Anne Boleyn, a sound script (based on an earlier play), solid production values, and a wonderful score by Georges Delerue (who also scored A Man for All Seasons). Mary Queen of Scots suffered from a bit of a convoluted plot but a literate script nevertheless (also loosely based on a prior play), and still had dependable performances across the board with Glenda Jackson reprising her portrayal of Elizabeth I from Elizabeth R with great gusto, and Vanessa Redgrave in a very believable interpretation of Mary (ironically, she did a cameo as Anne Boleyn in A Man for All Seasons). Many of the supporting roles are notable as well, Patrick McGoohan, Trevor Howard, Daniel Massey and Nigel Davenport. The production is grand, and the score by John Barry is one of the highlights of the film, so much so that Universal has provided the musical track only option (with commentary) on this disc which is an unexpected treat. This is one of Barry's best works! The music of Delerue and Barry really set the standard for films in this genre, and nothing has really equaled them to date. The two films counted fifteen Academy Award nominations between them. Good production values,and nicely packaged.
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on October 23, 2013
I never realized how immoral and deplorable were most English male Monarchs until I watched what Hal did to his wives who bore him dead or no sons. He was a demon possessed man bent on a male heir but in the end Elizabeth I, The Virgin Queen, ruled England with somewhat questionable diplomacy and grace. If I were in England, I would much rather have a female Queen if one at all. I think the so-called royals are a bore and expensive to the populous. If they were not so brainwashed by the press and their lame tradition of giving titles, they would have been thrown out long ago. Richard Burton is a perfect Hal. He was gross and weighty as was Henry. His evil shines as Burton puts his entire heart into this most famous of all roles. It is too bad his genius was not rewarded with even ONE award. He would die with no recognition as being the finest Shakespearean actor of his day and ours. I gave the acting a five but NOT the history. It is a dark time for England when so many died for nothing but fights and squabbles between the church and crown. Breaking with the Romish Church was Henry VIII finest hour. It had to be done and God evidently picked him to do it. The Pope had no right to overrule the desires of the King of England or any country. But, in this case, divorce was wrong and I do have to admire the members of his council for their decisions in NOT voting for his many divorces and marriages. He was a rogue King and a philanderer. I just think it is so wonderful that his daughter Elizabeth became queen and if he knew it, I am sure he would have turned over in his grave.

Bujold did a fine acting job of playing the unloved, beheaded queen. Liz wanted the role but was too old by this time and as I watched Genevieve and Burton together, I had to wonder if her fears were well founded and that they were involved as he always was with his leading ladies. I hear she was one the set at all times watching every move the two made so how could they have gotten together with her under foot. She as even in the crowd scenes if you can imagine that? It makes for an intriguing story. The two were not yet married at the time of shooting. Trivia!

I recommend this film, not for the despicable historical tale it tells but for the acting of most involved. Cromwell, the most evil lawyer in the court, was well acted by John Colicos and Anthony Quayle plays Henry's personal Bishop who was thrown out of his many manses, stripped of wealth and power and sent packing. He was a conniving old man with wealth beyond that of anyone in the realm including the King! Does that surprise any of us? Rome. Get it?

Each did their part to make this a successful film about Hal VIII. Bravo!!!
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on September 4, 2013
These are two more beautifully produced films from the days when Hollywood tried for a little authenticity in costumes and scripts. Anne sacrifices historical accuracy to give the doomed queen a scene in which she tells off Henry VIII but it's what we wish could have happened. Mary Queen of Scots has Scotland, bagpipes, murder, war, beheadings--those were the days.
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on January 28, 2008
The three stars are for "Mary Queen of Scots" not "Anne of the Thousand Days". The film makers really played fast and loose with history on this one. The most flagrant rewrites of history are the meetings between Mary and Elizabeth. Never happened. The two never met in person. There are other historical inaccuracies too numerous to mention. But I guess that's what's called dramatic license. However, the DVD is fun to watch it you don't take it too seriously.
On the up side, Vanessa Redgrave is THE Mary Queen of Scots. Perfect role for her. And, of course, it's pretty much a given by now that Glenda Jackson is the quintessential Elizabeth I. Timothy Dalton was good, too, as the [...], whiny, vacillating, selfish, self-serving, backstabbing, self-important Darnley. And I always love the costumes and scenery in these historical movies.
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