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A Man for All Seasons

4.7 out of 5 stars 543 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Adaptation of Robert Bolt's play about Sir Thomas More, a Catholic statesman in England who rebelled against Henry VIII's self-proclaimed status as the head of the Church of England and paid for his religious beliefs by having his head exhibited on London Bridge.

Robert Bolt's successful play was not considered a hot commercial property by Columbia Pictures--a period piece about a moral issue without a star, without even a love story. Perhaps that's why Columbia left director Fred Zinnemann alone to make A Man for All Seasons, as long as he stuck to a relatively small budget. The results took everyone by surprise, as the talky morality play became a box-office hit and collected the top Oscars for 1966. At the play's heart is the standoff between King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw, in young lion form) and Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield, in an Oscar-winning performance). Henry wants More's official approval of divorce, but More's strict ethical and religious code will not let him waffle. More's rectitude is a source of exasperation to Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Welles in a cameo), who chides, "If you could just see facts flat on without that horrible moral squint." Zinnemann's approach is all simplicity, and indeed the somewhat prosaic staging doesn't create a great deal of cinematic excitement. But the language is worth savoring, and the ethical politics are debated with all the calm and majesty of an absorbing chess game. --Robert Horton

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Nigel Davenport, John Hurt, Corin Redgrave
  • Directors: Fred Zinnemann
  • Producers: Fred Zinnemann
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 26, 1999
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (543 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305252564
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,907 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A Man for All Seasons" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on July 23, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have loved this movie since I saw it in its original release too many years ago. Certainly, Sir Thomas More was a magnificent person who died a martyr and has been canonized a saint. However, don't confuse the play and movie with the flesh and blood man. He was much more complex in real life than the purely noble performance of Paul Scofield. You can read the biography of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd to get at some of his complexities.
But this is a wonderful movie and I recommend it with great enthusiasm. It is a powerful movie and can have some useful at least temporary curative effect on the soul suffering under the ironical detachment and cynicism of our time. Scofield is wonderful and the definitive performance of this role. Orson Welles is quite special as the corpulent and corrupt Cardinal Wolsey. John Hurt is superb as the traitor Richard Rich. Shaw is fine as Henry VIII as is the rest of the cast.
And who can forget the line where More asks to see chain of office that Richard Rich was given to perjure himself and betray More. After examining it and being told that Sir Richard was made the Attorney General of Wales More says, "Richard, it profits a man nothing to trade his soul for the whole world, but for Wales ..." Wonderful stuff.
The disk offers the wide screen theatrical release and a full screen version for those who like to see less of the picture in order to avoid the upper and lower "bars". There is also the original trailer.
There are no other features on the disk beyond scene selection.
This disk belongs in every collection and should be reviewed regularly as an healthful tonic to help remedy the bilious nihilism of our age.
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Format: DVD
One of the finest films of all time, directed by Fred ( High Noon, From Here to Eternity ) Zinnemann. Among the ensemble of players are Wendy Hiller, Orson Welles, Susanna York, Robert Shaw, Leo Mc Kern and--in one of his earliest roles--a young John Hurt. Truly a cast for all seasons!
It's an acting lesson, headed by the great Paul Scofield who not only captures the essence of Sir Thomas Moore, but who does so with superb economy of motion; he hardly makes a gesture thoughout the entire film--- Duse would have loved it.
How does he do it? Well, as I said, it's an acting lesson. Suffice it to say he rightly deserved winning the Oscar.
Robert Bolt's brilliant play is a study of contrasts with a mystery at the heart of the theme: Was Moore a Saint who is now in Heaven with The Blessed, or was he a fool who could have died in his bed at a ripe old age after a lifetime of domestic felicity and the highest honors his country could bestow upon him?
If there is no God, or if you believe that the conflict between The Anglican and Catholic Churches to be of no paramount importance, is your integrity still worth losing your head on the chopping block?
Hmm. . .
Magnificent in every respect.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I ordered this DVD after reading James Monti's "The King's Good Servant but God's First" (an excellent biography of Thomas More) and becoming an utter fan of the scholar and saint (I've even got a framed copy of Holbein's famous portrait of More). Not knowing what to expect, I was floored, and still am, by the genius of this film (which very closely follows Robert Bolt's outstanding play, "A Man for All Seasons" -- also available on Amazon).

I've seen the DVD over 200 times and can probably follow it word for word.

Other than Paul Scoffield's absolutely BRILLIANT performance, the other performance which shines through is that of a young, handsome John Hurt playing Richard Rich. [You might recognize Hurt as the magical wands-shopkeeper in the Harry Potter film series.]

Some of the greatest lines/scenes in this incredibly intelligent, clever film:

Richard Rich: "I'm not depressed. I'm lamenting. I've lost my innocence!" (nervously joking)
Cromwell: (snaps) "Some time ago. You only just noticed?"

As an another reviewer pointed out, More's greatest line in the film: "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to lose his soul for the whole world... but for Wales??"

The movie is even better than the play itself, as the film refines certain elements (i.e., omits Chapuys's character, streamlines the relationship with Rich). However, the film only made VERY minor changes to the play -- since the play is quite brilliant and in no need of change -- so fans of the play will be surprised and pleased at how little the lines were changed.

I can't recommend this movie enough. Other than "The Passion of the Christ", it's my favorite film.
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By A Customer on August 23, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
One of the greatest English language films ever made about one of the greatest men who ever lived. St. Thomas More was a man of extraordinary conviction and through the years has proven to be a great inspiration to me, personally. When Sir Thomas is asked to endorse Henry VIII's petition for annulment from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, he's fully aware of the consequences of his refusal. Nevertheless, he did what he knew and felt was right and he paid the ultimate price. A true martyr in every sense of the word and a film that makes the viewer question his own value system and sense of passion and integrity. Paul Scoffield's brilliant and profound characterization of Sir Thomas is still a wonder to behold. He imbues this larger than life person with such quiet dignity and grace that it belies the reality of his existence. This is not a man worried about dying. This is a man worried about living without the courage of his convictions, knowing that he supported something he truly abhorred and knew was wrong. Robert Shaw's performance as Henry VIII is equally wonderful, as are Susannah York, Dame Wendy Hiller and Orson Wells. I never tire of watching this film or reading the play; incidentally, also one of my favorites.
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