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Masterpiece: Wolf Hall [Blu-ray]
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Tony Award-winning actor Mark Rylance and Emmy Award-winner Damian Lewis star as Thomas Cromwell and King Henry VIII in this adaptation of Hilary Mantels best-selling novels. A historical drama for a modern audience, Wolf Hall charts Cromwells meteoric rise in the Tudor court from blacksmiths son to Henry VIIIs closest advisor, trapped between his desire to do what is right and his instinct to survive.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.78:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 6.75 x 5.25 x 0.5 inches; 4 Ounces
- Item model number : 33569761
- Media Format : Blu-ray, Widescreen
- Run time : 6 hours
- Release date : April 28, 2015
- Actors : Mark Rylance, Damien Lewis
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : English (Stereo)
- Studio : PBS (Direct)
- ASIN : B00T797IUU
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#37,083 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #3,257 in Drama Blu-ray Discs
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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1. It's based on the novel Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - as opposed to anything by Philippa Gregory. This means a greater attempt at historical accuracy and less interest in romance and melodrama.
2. It is NOT The Tudors . Despite covering the same events and featuring the same characters, "The Tudors" was more of a costume drama with an emphasis on Henry's six wives and all the subsequent sex, intrigue and betrayal. "Wolf Hall" concentrates more on the intricate politics of the time and the historical ramifications they had.
3. The main character is Thomas Cromwell - not King Henry or Anne Boleyn (who have surprisingly minor roles). As such, most of the events are depicted through Cromwell's point-of-view, focusing on the politics of a single man and his personal relationships.
In short, people who come to "Wolf Hall" expecting something like "The Tudors" or a Philippa Gregory novel may well be disappointed. This is a very carefully and methodically paced show, one where actors are given plenty of time and space to inhabit their characters and deliver their lines. Most of the "action" is simply two people or more talking in a room, and there's very little pageantry or overt drama.
But there are rewards to this subtlety. For instance, one memorable scene is Cromwell and Jane Seymour's brothers calmly telling Jane what to do if the King tries to assault her - that screaming might do no good, so her best bet is to learn a prayer off by heart which she can use to appeal to the King's sense of honour. The casual manner in which they discuss this potential threat to a young woman (one who seems utterly resigned to her fate) is just chilling.
Mark Rylance plays Cromwell as entirely stoic and inscrutable; a somewhat divisive performance that some may find one-note and others deeply nuanced. Since it's up to him to carry the proceedings, your opinion on his Cromwell may well determine what you think of "Wolf Hall" in its entirety.
Claire Foy is a wonderful Anne Boleyn - capricious and passionate, but with growing panic behind her eyes as she feels her power waning. Damian Lewis is King Henry, and though it's a surprisingly limited role in terms of how much screen-time he gets, it's a role perfectly suited for him (they didn't even need to dye his natural hair colour!). He captures the famous king's intelligence, generosity, callousness, tempestuousness, and terrifying power.
There are plenty of other familiar faces: Bernard Hill, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Mark Gatkiss, Jonathan Pryce, Harry Lloyd - and even those like Joanne Whalley, who get only a couple of scenes, give it their all.
Fans of the book will be pleased to know that much of Hilary Mantel's witty dialogue remains intact (honestly, why bother otherwise?) but you must be a patient viewer to appreciate what the show is trying to achieve: a careful and honest portrayal of Thomas Cromwell and the part he played in these pivotal years of English history.
If your are a person who is well versed in Tudor history, The War of the Roses but have not yet read Hilary Mantel's novels, this is an exceedingly interesting and unique point of view of the events and of Thomas Cromwell. The screenplay is absolutely true to Mantel's novels and the novels, in my opinion, are spectacular. This miniseries did the books some serious justice. I only wish this cast would be brought back together again after the final novel in the series is published.
The subtleties and depth the actors bring to the characters is world class. Each one is absolutely believable in their role and the ensemble together is nothing short of magnificent. Casting could not have done a better job.
Mark Rylance for example. My goodness. He notes in the bonus material that he did not read the novels before filming. This is insane because he nails Cromwell to a tee and is fantastic in the role. I suppose, again, it speaks somewhat to casting. Bernard Hill as the Duke of Norfolk is a favorite. I cannot help myself at times yelling "I'll do slaughter!" if I'm miffed at some major annoyance. Mark Gatiss as Stephen Gardiner (!!), his timing and delivery are beautiful. Damien Lewis makes an eerily perfect sociopath that is Henry Tudor. Claire Foy's control of her facial expressions and command of the character's tightly-held, just-under-the-surface rage, mental exhaustion and breakdown is impeccable. Anton Lesser's take on More as an entitled, self-righteous zealot is scarily believable.
The detail of set design is impeccable. For example, as Cromwell rises in Henry's court, if you are paying attention you will see small, significant changes in his daily household living such as the slow change of moving from pewter cups, to silver and finally to ornate wine glasses. The table settings, the sideboard accessories and for a man who wears mostly black, the small and increasingly expensive, subtle changes to his wardrobe. Even the change in his household windows. It's all done so well, so thoughtfully and so subtly that if you weren't paying attention you would miss how completely these subtleties tie in to the character and your assessment of him.
It is often said that a film or miniseries cannot compete in depth with a novel. And so it is. But this miniseries did great honor to the works.
His aristocratic "betters" call him a dog, but they rightly fear his knowledge and manipulation of English law and his rising power as King Henry's lawyer and banker. Yet even a wealthy Cromwell cannot escape the terrifying frailty of life in a pre-scientific world, losing his wife and two young daughters in a single day to "sweating sickness." An insightful and subtle portrayal of a dangerous time!
Top reviews from other countries
The acting is a sight to behold. Academy Award winning actor Mark Rylance plays the role of a lifetime as Thomas Cromwell - the politically astute scheming right-hand man of King Henry VIII. His understated performance makes Cromwell seem even more cunning and opportunistic - it would have been easy to over-act this central character. With the story being told from Cromwell's perspective, this gives a new dimension to the well-told stories surrounding King Henry VIII.
Damian Lewis gives a swashbuckling performance as King Henry VIII with moments of anger, confusion, despair and strength. Lewis effectively highlights the gulf between his social background and Cromwell's, but promotes and trusts his advisor for most of the proceedings. Claire Foy is convincing as the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, bringing energy and a quirkiness to this ambitious plotting woman. Her coronation and execution scenes are incredibly vivid and dramatic. Two former James Bond villains play key roles - Jonathan Pryce is outstanding as the mistreated Cardinal Wolsey, and Mathieu Amalric is memorable as the somewhat confused Imperial ambassador of Charles V.
The real Tudor locations used throughout the production make it incredibly atmospheric - the actors are actually acting where similar events took place almost 500 years ago. In addition, the minimal lighting supplied by candles and natural light creates a sense of how the rooms may have looked in the past, and adds to the covert and sinister edge of the story. Also, the dark and understated costumes complement the plotting and scheming narrative - the actors are not overshadowed by overly flamboyant clothing.
In the extras section, there are interesting interviews with the director, writer and leading actors, as well as six deleted scenes. The director and writer describe the challenges of adapting such an iconic work of literature from Hilary Mantel for the screen.
Overall, a wonderful adaptation of Hilary Mantel's award-winning novels. With such lauded books as the source material Mantel had set a very high bar. However, the BBC have more than passed the test.
The techniques that make this the visual equivalent of a page-turner were all there, each episode ending on a note that is finely calculated to make you check your watch and decide to watch the next one in a binge-fest of Tudor-y goodness. Within each episode are moments where something happens, the scene shifts, and you're left hanging on wondering how all these apparently loose threads are going to come back together.
It's a very slow-burn drama series, but "drama" it most definitely is. The shifts of opinion and fortune are very well played out, leaving us wondering whether a character knows what is in store for them, and whether by luck, guile, or insight they'll manage to save themselves. The language is also sometimes marvellous. Rylance (Thomas Cromwell on screen) in particular delivers messages within messages, alludes, hints and cajoles as he gains precarious influence and only finds full voice when his power is more secure - whereupon a new dimension to his character appears. If you watched the first episode and the later ones you'd think he had "broken character", the change is that profound - and he's certainly no longer "Mr Nice Guy".
The filming itself is often quite dark, bringing a sense of realism to the settings and a strong sense of place. It does also tend to suggest the brooding presence of Cromwell, that sense that the shadows suited him. The dialogue is clear and the only ambiguities in there are the ones scripted - it is generally a feast for the sense, in that it creates a believable world for us to inhabit a while, even if we're not entirely comfortable there.
event was unprecedented in the history of kingship. This single event unleashed the current lawlessness in relation to gender and domestic abuse which our current society is still plagued by, and still endures today. The church was equally treated shamelessly,but at least we are now free to choose to believe in faith or not, without fear.