Alphabetical Movie – A Man For All Seasons
A Man For All Seasons is, I think, one of the movies being parodied in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is filled with English people doing historical English things that are super important if you are Royalty and completely unimportant if you are anyone else.
I enjoy English actors acting the shit out of stuff so watching Paul Scofield and Robert Shaw chomping on the saga of Thomas More entertains me to no end.
As someone who is non religious, the central conflict seems petty to me. Sure, I can respect Thomas More for standing on his principles. You have to stand for something.
What he was standing for, however, was the religious sovereignty of the Pope. My response, of course, is a great big “who cares?”
I understand that More had some deeply held beliefs and Henry VIII was crapping all over those beliefs by trying to get a divorce. I further understand that he must have thought he was carving out a really sweet plot of land in heaven by being the good defender of the Catholic faith.
It totally scored him a sainthood so good on him, I guess.
On the other hand, why did anyone care? He wasn’t making a nuisance of himself. He wasn’t speaking out against the crown. In fact, he was going out of his way to avoid speaking out against the crown. Yet Henry felt some sort of personal slight had been made and as a result, he called for a good old-fashioned trial by rigged jury.
That Thomas More was executed makes no sense to me because these guys weren’t arguing about two different gods. They were arguing about the same god. Their interpretations of what that god wanted from them (or in Henry’s case – what he wanted from that god) were different but they weren’t prohibitively so.
More’s life was wasted in my opinion but he’d wasted the lives of others as well. He’d ordered several people burned at the stake for heresy. Their crimes amounted to little more that being a Protestant.
So More’s hands weren’t clean. We want him to be the hero because unlike Henry, he isn’t finding a new girl to marry every few years. He’s standing up for something he believes in and we are taught to respect that kind of behavior.
So, OK, I respect that he stood up for his beliefs.
It makes me wonder if, in retrospect, he gained some admiration for those he’d sentenced to death when they did the exact same thing he would do years later. They refused to recant and for that choice, they were burned at the stake
If I was asked to choose between being burned at the stake and beheading, I know I’d skip being burned alive. When More’s life is put on the balance with the lives of the dozen or so people he condemned for heresy, I feel like he got off fairly easy.
For me, aside from some brilliant screen filling English actoring, the movie is worthwhile because it reminds me that petty fights over religion have been deadly.