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Six Wives of Henry VIII, The


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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A chronicle of England's turbulent years of the early 16th century recounting the life and times of the vibrant and lusty King Henry VIII in a cycle of six plays. Stars Keith Michell in his Emmy Award-winning performance as Henry VIII and features a 90-minute "bonus drama", The Other Boleyn Girl, based on the popular Philippa Gregory novel.

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A British television series originally broadcast on CBS (and rebroadcast on PBS) in America in 1971, The Six Wives of Henry VIII remains a painless way to learn something about royal history and its impact on the political and religious landscape of England. Keith Michell stars as King Henry VIII, who assumes the throne as a boy after the death of his older brother and inherits the latter's Spanish betrothed, Catherine of Aragon (Annette Crosbie), as well. Growing up and increasingly complicated in personality, with an ever-growing appetite for elusive happiness as well as power and food, Henry maneuvers (and is maneuvered by) forces around him to break from Rome and create the Church of England, in part to accommodate his wish for a divorce.

Each story of the king's successive brides takes up an entire episode in the series. Dorothy Tutin plays the doomed Anne Boleyn, Anne Stallybrass is Henry's favorite, Jane Seymour, Elvi Hale is Anne of Cleves, Angela Pleasence is Catherine Howard, and Rosalie Crutchley plays last-in-line Catherine Parr. A very large and fine supporting cast adds intrigue and extra layers of tragedy to the proceedings, especially John Baskcomb as Cardinal Wolsey, Wolfe Morris as Thomas Cromwell, and Ralph Bates as Thomas Culpepper. Each 90-minute episode was crafted by a different writer, but the series holds together very well under Keith Michell's dazzling performance as the despicable if sympathetic Henry, whose emotional arc over many years and losses is something to see. --Tom Keogh


Special Features

Biographies
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Product Details

  • Actors: Keith Michell, Annette Crosbie, Dorothy Tutin, Elvu Hale
  • Format: Box set, Color
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 16, 2006
  • Run Time: 630 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EBD9VM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,833 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Six Wives of Henry VIII, The" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 10, 2006
Format: DVD
This is a series of six individual plays that focuses upon each of the six wives of King Henry VIII of England. Written by six different playwrights, they are uniformly excellent. While the production values are not high, that is because these plays were part of a televised series for which there were budgetary constraints. Although the makeup is noticable, the sets are uninspired, and the lighting is harsh, the costumes, however, are gorgeous. More important, the acting is superb.

King Henry VIII is played to perfection by Keith Michell. He has set the standard by which all others in the part will be judged, and he is the linchpin around whom the entire series revolves. He plays the young, athletic, erudite, golden king in the first tape, and the viewer watches him age and deteriorate throughout the entire series, until he finally becomes the sore riddled, morbidly obese, self absorbed, tyrannical hulk of his later years.

Each one of the six wives has her own unique story. The plays tell that story, each a first rate drama unto itself that segues into the next one seamlessly. All the queens are portrayed by very talented thespians, and the supporting cast is superlative. All in all, this series provides a fully absorbing historical drama that should not be missed. It is through the story of each of the wives that one is able to see England transform itself from a catholic country to a protestant one. It also provides a birdseye view of the political intrigues that fueled the Reformation.
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Format: DVD
"The Six Wives of Henry VIII" is the original BBC series of six 90 minute plays chronicling the reign and marriages of England's King Henry VIII. Each of the six plays or segments, "Katherine Aragon", "Anne Boleyn", "Jane Seymour", "Anne Of Cleves", "Catherine Howard" and "Catherine Parr," is written by a different author. The series was released to great popular and critical acclaim in 1971 and televised on PBS' Masterpiece Theater. This is a three-disc DVD boxed set, with two 90-minute teleplays per disc (one per spouse). Keith Michell is outstanding as the multiple-married monarch. From a boisterous, athletic, handsome Hal, at the time of his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, (Annette Crosbie), the superb Michell, and make-up, transform the king before our eyes to a porcine, tyrannical, and sickly ruler. Although each drama is limited in scope due to time restrictions, the monarch's personal and political reasons for selecting and/or rejecting, (or beheading), his spouses are depicted to some extent.

"My, you ought to seen old Henry the Eight when he was in bloom. He was a blossom. He used to marry a new wife every day, and chop off her head next morning. And he would do it just as indifferent as if he was ordering up eggs." Thus Mark Twain describes our protagonist in "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." As this series demonstrates, Henry was not quite the womanizer he is reputed to be. He was married to Katharine of Aragon for over twenty years and had just a few mistresses before this - unusual for a prince. He waited years to physically consummate his relationship with Anne Boleyn, and remained faithful to her until marriage.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 2, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I'm surprised that none of the reviews prior to this one mentioned Keith Mitchell's exceptional performance as Henry VIII. You saw him portray Henry from his youth when was a handsome, athletic, scholarly and pious prince to his later years as an obese, repugnant, evil and diseased monarch. You cannot believe that this is the same person, as his evolution goes from one extreme to the other. This transition could not have been carried out by a lesser actor.
I subtract only one star for the low quality of the production itself, but the acting was superb by Mitchell and the ladies that portrayed his six queens. Many of these actors are famous within the British theatre but unfortunately not as well known as some of our Hollywood stars. They should be recognized for their fine efforts, including Dorothy Tutin. She gave the most haunting performance of Henry's second wife, Anne Bolyen, who was executed on trumped up charges of adultery so Henry could marry Jane Seymour, his third queen.
This series truly succeeds in showing what a sick and evil monster that Henry VIII was. He executed so many for such minor offenses and he committed so much evil to beget a male heir. You can almost breathe a sigh of relief when he dies, almost as if you, yourself are spared from the executioner's block.
I must also highly recommend the companion series, "Elizabeth R", about the life of Queen Elizabeth I. She was the only child he had with Anne Boleyn and her reign was the most illustrious in English history. This six part series is also available from Amazon.com.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 1, 2000
Format: DVD
The BBC really know how to produce great drama , and this series was amongst the best . The idea of having different authors to produce each of the episodes or plays , whilst keeping the same actors , was an inspired one , as it keeps the series fresh and interesting. Keith Mitchell truly is the definitive Henry VIII (not the only time he's played this role) , and it's difficult to see how anyone else could carry off the role with the same style. For anyone interested in British history , or historical drama , this dvd is a must , as although the series rarely deviates from the same few locations , you certainly get a good feeling of what it must have been like to live in Tudor England. I really cannot rate this drama series too highly , and if you too enjoy it , I would recommend Elizabeth R which was produced in a very similar style (also by the BBC) and brilliantly acted out by Glenda Jackson amongst other great British actors.
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the actresses who portray the wives
I recall watching it on TV (PBS in 1973) and thinking the 'wives' were rather plain also. My mom pointed out that in those times (16th century), standards of beauty were vastly different. People bathed infrequently hence greasy hair, dental care was unknown hence grotesque oral care and lots of... Read More
Jun 5, 2009 by Buche de Noel |  See all 13 posts
Can someone please comment on the DVD quailty?
I just finished watching the DVD and the colors are very faded. But I am not sure if this is due to the program being shot on video and not on film.
Jan 8, 2008 by Movie Mania |  See all 5 posts
Does this version have closed captions or English subtitles? Be the first to reply
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