The film A Man for All Seasons contains one of the best lines in cinema.
As part of our attempt to expose our sons to films that pre-date Star Wars, we’ve recently seen I Confess (see blog under “Films”), North-by-Northwest and The Philadelphia Story. While none of these other films really captured their teenage imagination and interest, the biopic on Sir Thomas More finally succeeded.
A Man for All Seasons is historical, political and cleverly written (winning six Oscars in 1966, including picture and actor-Paul Scofield as More). The film tells the story Henry VIII’s attempt to dump Catherine of Aragon, who isn’t producing a male heir, in place of Anne Boleyn, who hopefully will produce (no males, but Elizabeth I–not too bad).
Cardinal Wolsey pressures More to give his assent to the annulment. Because of conscience, More refuses. Wolsey dies, so Henry speaks directly to More. He still refuses. (I hope this isn’t a spoiler for anyone, but the movie is pretty accurate historically, so I’m assuming you all know what’s coming.)
More is thrown in prison, but because he’s a lawyer, he is clever enough to not say anything the State can use against him in a treason case. Eventually, More’s tried for treason and to testify against him is Richard Rich (played by John Hurt-Ollivander, if you watch Harry Potter 1, 7A and 7B, yeah, he was 50 years younger in AMFAS). Rich perjured himself during the trial (for which he has been already been awarded with the post of attorney general for Wales), which allows the state to convict More of treason. More, realizing he’s a dead man (beheaded July 6, 1535), makes an allusion to Mark 8:36 in his final words to Rich, “It profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world, but for Wales?”
Wow! (I don’t use exclamation marks on principle, but this one is warranted.)
Does it get any better than that? (Wales is actually a beautiful country.) To see a 4 minute youtube version of the scene check out- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLIsqYKDqY8
What’s your favorite movie line?