I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Man for All Seasons, 1966










Rated G

I would bet this is one of the most unrecognizable Best Picture winners, and yet I’d seen it before. In the summer of 2006, I was hired as a Kindergarten teacher at St. Thomas More Catholic School in San Francisco. Wanting to know a bit more about the man from the 16th century whose namesake I would be honored to teach under, I was recommended this film by my dad. I’ll be honest and say it is not the most riveting film, but being Catholic myself, I found great interest in it.

King Henry VIII wants to have a son (to secure an heir to the throne) and his current wife, the Queen, is barren. He has taken up a mistress who “is fertile” and therefore requests a divorce so he can marry her. Now that is against Catholic teaching. The Pope, did however, grant him a dispensation allowing him to marry his brother’s widow “for state reasons” (ensuring him a child) but the King does not want that… apparently he’s also in love with his mistress.

Sir Thomas More (now a saint) is a very respectable and respected member of the King’s Council and a staunch believer and follower of the Church’s teachings. Therefore, he personally discourages the King to seek divorce. The rest of the Council is displeased with STM for not acquiescing to the King… can’t he go along with it like the others to make the King happy? The Cardinal, specifically, reprimands him for being the only member opposing the divorce and making it “a matter of conscience”; if he could only look at the “common sense” instead of “through his moral squint”. Ouch.


In short, Sir Thomas More resigns as Chancellor in attempt to keep the peace by keeping his mouth shut, but his stubborn refusal to give his approval results in his confinement in prison and eventual beheading. This was obviously during a time when there was no separation between Church and State. It was very important that the royalty be supported by the Church. Further, a marriage was not something that could be dissolved by common-law courts since it was an institution granted by the Church. Since the founding of America, there has been this separation of Church and State for us, but I can’t help but wish we were somehow held responsible to a good moral compass.

This film raised questions for me about divorces versus annulments. I read that playboy King Henry VIII ended up having three annulments (and obviously broke away from the Catholic Church forming his own Church of England). But from what I’ve known, infertility is not grounds for an annulment unless this was information that was purposefully kept from the spouse prior to marriage. Deception or dishonesty are key requirements in most cases for annulments, so the King must’ve gone about his annulments another way.

Just because it’s rated G, doesn’t mean I would let little kids see it… only because they would be bored to death with the subject matter and dialogue; it’s too cerebral. It’s rated as such because there is nothing worrisome like language, violence, etc.

I watched this movie for the second time on my portable DVD player while on a long flight. Apparently, the gentleman behind me also watched it because when we started to deplane, he asked what it was. I told him, and seeing the puzzled look on his face, explained about my Oscar challenge. He admitted he was reading the subtitles and was confused… He thought it was going to be a movie like “Monty Python”. “I kept expecting it to be funny… I’m not sure it should’ve won,” he finally said. I smiled and said, “That’s the great thing about this challenge- there are so many different movies that won and for different reasons,” while in my head, I was saying, “I’m not sure the creepy guy behind me, who should have prepared his own in-flight entertainment, should be giving the Academy advice on their picks, okay pumpkin?”

The other nominees this year included, “Alfie”, “The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming” (sounds hysterical), “The Sand Pebbles” (sounds incredibly boring), and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (the sequel to Disney’s “Three Little Pigs”). I jest. I haven’t seen any of those so I can’t rightly compare. The last nominee was its closest competition with a very impressive thirteen nominations (compared to eight), and interestingly, these two films were both rewritten from stage plays. “A Man for All Seasons” won 6 awards that evening including Best Actor (well-deserved) and Best Director, among others.

This is not a film I would recommend to just anybody. If you have an interest in history, English history, Church history, or would just like to see some fine acting, then please, watch this film and let me know what you think.

FAVORITE SCENE:

The last ten minutes of the film kept me pretty focused.  Sir Thomas More was finally given a “trial”. He was found guilty of treason and executed. The dialogue that happened at the very end was perfectly poignant:

Sir Thomas More: I die His Majesty’s good servant, but God’s first. (Turning to his executioner), I forgive you right readily. Be not afraid of your office. You send me to God.
Archbishop: You’re very sure of that Thomas?
STM: He will not refuse one who is so blithe to go to Him.

LESSONS LEARNED:

Sir Thomas discusses occupations and positions with a young gentleman (who eventually betrays him). He desires a political position with a lot of power but Sir Thomas recommends becoming a teacher. “If I was…” he asks, “who would know it?” Sir Thomas simply replies, “You, your pupils, your friends, God- not a bad public, that.” Do what you feel called to do using the gifts God has given you not because you seek fame or wealth, but because it brings glory to God.

If you get nothing else out of this movie, you at least can be inspired by Sir Thomas More’s courage. It calls to question: what are you willing to die for?

2 comments:

  1. Sounds pretty interesting. :) I would have been a little weirded out by the creeper behind me too!

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  2. Sir Thomas Moore sounds pretty inspiring. I think I'd enjoy this movie. Love the dialogue you called out.

    Your three little pigs reference cracked me up. :)

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