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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why, Oh Why, Do I Keep Watching the Tudors?

So, okay. In the beginning, the Tudors had a terrific protagonist--a sexual, feminist, conniving religious zealot, being manipulated by Cardinal Wolsey and her family until she ceased to be malleable. 
You can't beat Anne Boleyn as a character, although her ending is, of course, a bit abrupt. And she was well-played, by flat-faced, crooked mouthed actress, Natalie Dormier--although, like the other women on the series, she does not ever wear a chemise. 
Then, we should have had someone to latch onto with Sir Thomas More, though as played by Jeremy Northam, he seemed so low-key as to be half asleep. 

Of course, he, too, abruptly leaves the tale. 

Cromwell makes another fascinating protagonist, here shown as nearly a religious hero, though played with such contained intelligence by the curly-mouthed across, James Frain, that he still winds up someone to follow. 

Until--bye bye head. Another swift ending. 

For a brief moment, a terrific heroine enters the picture--an intelligent young woman in some crazy German headgear, who is being sold to a violent, murderous king who, it turns out, cannot stand her--and in fact, declares after feeling her up, that her breasts are to soft for her to be a virgin. 
We can cheer this woman, with no allies, no power and an axe looming over her neck, as she maneuvers her way to not just safety, but a happy household. (Although The Tudors destroys it all by having her willingly lie with the great rutting boar she narrowly avoids as a husband.) 

Then, the series veers into actual (well, not actual, but nearly actual) child pornography, as a sweet, lustful, wild-child (in this production) Queen Katherine Howard dances near-naked in the rain in an open courtyard where anyone in the castle can easily look, and the King watches, too, in delight. And then, of course, as is historically accurate, she rehearses in advance the act of putting her childlike head--totally naked. (!) At which point, you throw up your hands in despair and if you are intelligent, quit--or if you are one of those people who has to finish the book even if it's bad, just to figure out why it's bad, you keep on watching. (Katherine Howard is here played by another actress with a flat little face and a crooked mouth, Tamzin Merchant.) 

By this time, if you have any knowledge of history at all, you are frantically trying to imagine the real Henry of this era, who looked like this, and not like this: 

Of course, at the very beginning of the series, Henry already looked like this, so there you go. 

I will admit that it is sheer stubbornness that keeps me watching at this point. Plus, wondering where the laundresses are working on all those chemises that the woman should have been wearing, throughout the show. 
That, and the fact that finally, they cast a woman with a genuine Tudor nose--the radiant Joely Richardson, who is, inexplicably and against all custom, allowed to part her hair on the side, and who is playing a woman who, in her portraits, had a little pug in the middle of her face. 

Through this all, Jonathan Michael Francis O'Keefe, better know as Jonathan Rhys Meyers, has grown a beard, and devolved into one of those whispering actors, speaking his lines very softly in a fairly good imitation of Richard Burton with laryngitis. 
Thomas Gomez as Wang Khan and John Wayne as Gengis. 

Oh, well. Maybe I should switch learn my history from something more historically accurate, like that fine film, The Conquererabout  Temujin, otherwise known as Gengis Khan. 

Charleton Heston as William Clark and Donna Reed as Sacajawea.

Or I could study Lewis and Clark, via the film Far Horizons. 

Or, as I've mentioned before, learn about the history of Thailand from The King and I

(Real King Monghut on the left, real Anna below.) 

I guess ya pays your money and ya takes your chance. 

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