on July 21, 2007
This "Wallis and Edward" story is totally unlike any I have seen. I'm fascinated by the story, or I wouldn't be buying all the versions. I would have liked it to be longer, of course, with more detail, but the length (less than 2 hours) could be considered an advantage.
This version presents things the way Wallis may have viewed them. Very unusual is the idea that she didn't want to divorce Ernest Simpson at all, she considered they had a good "partnership," she was sure the future king (Edward)would eventually tire of her and move on to a new fling. This is in contrast with the 7 CD set by the BBC, which gives all the details of the parliamentary involvement and the legal issues, and which presented Wallis as thinking she could become Queen of England and setting out with a definite plan to totally captivate Crown Prince Edward and remove him from the influence of his other married paramours.
It's also totally different from the portrayal of Wallis and Edward in "Bertie and Elizabeth," which paints both Wallis and Edward in a very negative light, especially in comparison to Bertie and Elizabeth, well respected for their exemplary lifestyle and sacrifice and courage during WWII.
Since obviously there are details of the Wallis/Edward relationship and history that no one, perhaps not even the persons involved, can ever really know, the film would have to be labeled "based on history." But Joely is fabulous and the actor who portrays Edward is also quite good, although other performances have captured better the physical appearance, voice, and mannerisms of the famous lovers.
Summary: I highly recommend this film for aficionados of the British Royal Family.
on May 11, 2007
Edward, Prince of Wales was first in line for the British throne when he first met Wallis Simpson and her husband Ernest. They were Americans visiting in England on business when Edward and Wallis began what seemed to be just another affair in Edward's long string of mistresses. When Edward became King of England after his father's death, his affair with Wallis escalated with her divorcee from her husband. Edward was adamant that he would married Wallis and make her his Queen, despite her status as a twice divorced American woman of common background. The scandal rocked all of England and resulted in the only time a British monarch would renounce his throne in order to marry the woman he loved. "Wallis & Edward" is a brilliant BBC production of a royal love that would change history on the eve of the second world war. Truly tour-de-force performances are provided by every member of the multiple cast. The costumes and sets are picture perfect. This 94-minute film is now available in a DVD format allowing for the addition of an interview with writer Sarah Williams, production notes, a production photo gallery, an historical photo galley, and cast filmographies. A simply brilliant, informed, and entertaining production, "Wallis & Edward" is enthusiastically recommended for personal, family, and community library DVD collections.
Even today the British seem to have trouble figuring out how to present a balanced portrait of the 1936 abdication crisis. The best and most even-handed version by far remains the witty 1978 miniseries EDWARD AND MRS. SIMPSON, which is sympathetic to most of the parties involved and their torments over the split between the uncrowned Edward VIII's heart and his duties. More often than not, however, the future Duke and Duchess of Windsor are viewed as selfish monsters. The 2005 TV movie BERTIE AND ELIZABETH, for example, presented things from the point of view of his brother and successor George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth, depicting Edward as a spoiled and callow child and his future wife Wallis Simpson as a brittle society harpy.
This lavishly produced two-hour television film takes the exactly opposite view. Edward here (as depicted by Stephen Moore Campbell, a dead ringer for the King) is an articulate defender of his inalienable human right to love freely, and Wallis (Joely Richardson, with a bizarrely harsh and unconvincing American accent that sounds nothing like the real woman from her appearances on television) wants nothing more than what's best for the British people and for her dear, dear second husband Ernest. In this account, she just can't seem to get Edward to leave her alone with his passionate intensity for her: he seems to be some sort of curse visited upon her. Meanwhile, Queen Mary (Margaret Tyzack, great as always at playing society gargoyles) and King George V (Clifford Rose) gnash their teeth at what they mistake to be Mrs. Simpson's incredible presumption, and Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin (Richard Johnson) and other Establishment monsters plot her annihilation. There's no talk of Wallis's scheming against Edward's other mistresses, and hardly any mention of her incessant social climbing; she just seems somehow to have blundered into the whole affair without a plan in the world. Still, it's nice for once to get things from the Windsors' point of view, even if it does almost as if they paid (from beyond the grave) to have this produced as propaganda. If anything this film is worth seeing just for the clothes: since both Wallis and Edward were famous clotheshorses, the costumes for this film are absolutely spectacular.
I grew up hearing stories of British royalty and their scandals as my mother is an avid fan of all things royalty and the epic romance of Edward, Prince of Wales and later King Edward VIII and Mrs Wallis Simpson was one which always fascinated me. Though I'm not a fan of the couple [because they were known Nazi sympathizers], I do find their romance fascinating, and used to wonder as to what kind of woman would so intoxicate a king as to persuade him to give up his throne.
This screen adaptation of their love story is told from Wallis' point of view and is quite a sympathetic portrayal of Wallis. Though I'm no expert on the history of this romance, I did wonder as to how much of this version was fact because the traditional versions seem to point a very accusatory finger at Wallis' role behind Edward's decision to abdicate his throne to be with the woman he loves.
What comes across clearly is Edward's [played magnificently by Stephen Campbell Moore] infatuation and obsession with Wallis [Joely Richardson, more recently seen in the tv series Nip and Tuck], an American woman who had been divorced and was married to American businessman Ernest Simpson [David Westhead]when the pair meet. Very soon, Edward, Prince of Wales who was famous for being a playboy [much to the detriment of his royal parents, King George and Queen Mary] takes Wallis as his lover, but their affair doesn't draw too much attention until he openly displays Wallis at official functions and shows his partiality towards her. When Ernest asks Wallis for a divorce [supposedly embroiled in an affair himself] after a civil meeting with Edward, all hell breaks loose as the British PM, Stanley Baldwin [Richard Johnson] and other influential people begin to realize the very real threat that Wallis poses to the monarchy should Edward decide to legalize their union by marriage once Wallis' second divorce comes through.
The specter of a marriage between Edward and Wallis at the time was deemed a catastrophe as Edward, who became King Edward VIII upon the death of his father, was the head of the Church of England, and which forbade remarriage for anyone whose divorced spouse was still living [and in this case, both of Wallis' ex' were still living].
The rest of the story tells of Edward's futile attempts at convincing the British government to grant a morganatic marriage. This version portrays Wallis as a woman prepared to sacrifice Edward for the sake of his throne, telling him NOT to abdicate, but has us believe that Edward was acting of his own volition in abdicating.
I found Edward's portrayal by Stephen Campbell Moore to be very credibly done and one of the most poignant scenes in the movie is when he is talking to his younger brother Bertie, who went on to become King George VI after Edward's abdication. Joely Richardson also does an admirable job as the much vilified Wallis, and this particular screen version of the romance portrays a very sexual side of the relationship between Edward and Wallis, which is made all the more believable by the authentic chemistry shared between the two leads. The sexual aspect of the pair's relationship is often ignored in other versions, but not here. One gathers that though Wallis was not endowed with great beauty in the traditional sense, often seeming almost manly, she nevertheless exuded a very potent sexual charisma that undoubtedly attracted Edward to her, among many other things.
All in all, "Wallis and Edward" may veer away from the traditional version of events but it nevertheless makes for riveting viewing.
on October 7, 2014
If the writer is accurate the re-telling of the Wallis & Edward affair affords the viewer the realization that the principles were silly, directionless persons - taking and using what they wanted, when they wanted - with no regard to principles of duty, commitments to others, and individual morality. The telling moment for Wallis was when her husband tells her that he is in love with another woman "who loves him more than he has been loved by her". Wallis takes offense and leaves in a huff even tho the truth of what he said is that she has betrayed him and is in a full blown affair with the charming but weak prince who has showered her with jewels. One has to consider the fact that if the roles of the men between husband and price were reversed - the result would have been the same....the age old game of power and gain taking precedence. As to the film making itself, the back ground music, in order to evoke a mood, has taken its cue from the outstanding musical score in the English film, 'North and South'. A movie that, in my opinion, deserves a 5+ star rate. The music for "Wallis & Edward should not have been strains of sweet beauty and innocence, but rather strains of light hearted, sophisticated twittering nonsense that led to human folly.
on April 9, 2015
Basically a rehash of the abdication. I would much rather see a dramatization of the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor AFTER he gave up the throne showing the behavior and actions of the pair up until their deaths. History shows there was some reconciliation upon the death of the Duke that never really took hold and how Lord Mountbatten came "shopping" among HRH personal possessions in a attempt to snatch them. The Duchess held firm and donated things she felt appropriate to return to the royal family and donated the proceeds from the sale of her fabulous jewel collection to AIDS research. I think that would make a far better story.
If you ever wondered why Edward, who could have any single woman in England for a wife, would give up his throne for Wallis Simpson, an American and divorcee at that, this film offers some insight. Joely Richards who plays Wallis resembles her enough, and has a kind of sophisticated sensuality that could smite a man. She was terrific, and much more attractive than the footage I've seen of Wallis. She didn't treat the King with deference and that's probably what he liked.
The actor who played the King, Stephen Campbell Moore, captured the essence of Edward and was believable as the smitten King. You could see how he would be intrigued by Wallis. Loved the fashion and interior decor, and it's worth watching the film for that, if you like the 1930's fashions. For anglophiles who are fascinated by this couple and time period, you'll probably enjoy this enactment of the seduction of Edward by Wallis Simpson.
Simpson comes across as a more sympathetic figure than perhaps she was in real life.
on July 19, 2013
Of late we have been bombarded with films about the Brit royals. We didn't have many of those in Kansas City where i misspent my youth, so we were not much interested, but if you are accompanied with someone who breathes the comings and goings if the bluebloods, their secret lives, peccadillos, illicit romances and the type of facial tissue they use, one is induced to watch movies about them. We have seen so many king Georges and Wallis Simpsons I need a printed program. This film produced by Madonna purports to show the kindness, gentle loving qualities of her relationship with Edward. Other information tells us of her oft married early experiences a.o in Asia and her unusual physical proportions, and i had hoped to learn what magical endowments she possessed which would lure a handsome, sophisticated worldly king, who admittedly bedded half the young ladies in his social set (and probably a few men) to cause him to bring down his crown to stay close to a woman so hated by the brits that she had threats on her life 20 years after his abdication. Unfortunately not in Madonna's film. Alas my prurient desires will have to wait for the next episode. I shall be there with my friend.., worth a watch.
on March 2, 2014
It was refreshing to see this tale told from a completely different perspective. From other "bios" I've read/seen about Edward, he comes off as a womanizer, and completely capable of going to the "nth" degree to get what HE wants…especially if a challenge. As well, an interesting tidbit (if true) is learning more about Wallis and her husbands relationship and what ultimately let to them splitting up. The acting was not superb, however I enjoyed it and felt it was well worth the purchase.
on October 13, 2007
This is a gorgeous production of a script, written by a woman who felt that Wallis Simpson had been unfairly villified in England and wanted to present another viewpoint. The story, itself, is fascinating and one can only wonder at the real truths...Did Mrs. Simpson cold-heartedly go after Edward? Did she want to become Queen of England? Did she really want to stay married to Mr. Simpson and just have an affair with Edward? And finally, did she really love this man?
This writer gives us her version, which is much more sympathetic to Wallis Simpson than others. Here Wallis is shown to want to have stepped out of the picture and to have Edward take the throne. What remained a question in my mind was whether the woman really loved the man or if she was grabbing at what she considered was her last chance at security. It is quite obvious that Edward was truly mad about her but I never got that she genuinely cared about him. She was flattered by the attention, and as a woman who had grown up as a poor child in America, the atmosphere in which she found herself as his favorite was certainly a heady one. Even her husband enjoyed it for a while. But did she love him?
Joely Richardson plays the enigmatic Mrs. Simpson, as self assured and supposedly charming. I felt that in the attempt to make the character more vulnerable and sympathetic to the viewer, that her beauty and charm were given short shrift. I don't consider Ms. Richardson particularly beautiful and, if I hadn't known the story I would have wondered what the Prince saw in her. When we saw the photos of the real pair, one could easily see the beauty and charm.
I found Stephen Campbell Moore amazing as Edward. He looked very much like the photos and seemed to perfectly embody his idealistic, romantic, perhaps foolish character. His portrayal made the man very believable. He had style, charm and beauty enough for both of them.
Like many others, I grew up hearing about this couple and saw pictures of them in their later years as they cruised from one fashionable spot to another. And I had heard his famous abdication speech many times. So I always had the impression that this was a great love story. Maybe it was, but in this film it comes across as more tragic and sad. In spite of the intentions of the writer, I found that the character of Wallis Simpson was still very unsympathetic.
This film is quite beautifully done and certainly piques your interest to know more.