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THE TUDORS: EPISODE TWO – SEASON ONE

Kings gazing at Mary Boleyn, "The English Mare"

Episode II opens with the picturesque sprawling hills of Val’ d’Or (Valley of Gold), English occupied France.  King Henry VIII along with a small band of his heavily armed men approach the meeting point that would be the site of the signing of the” The Treaty of Universal and Perpetual Peace” between France and England.  The two Kings meet and you could see them sizing each other up.  I would say that the acting was superb because I could feel the cautious tension between the two without words being spoken.  

Anyway, the two host a celebration before the signing of the treaty.  I am sure that there were other forms of entertainment but wresting was the one highlighted.  King Francois of France basically smack talks with Henry, attributing French superiority over the English in everything including beautiful women and of course, wrestling.  King Henry could no longer bite his supercilious tongue, so he challenges the lanky but taller Francois to a fight.  In the end, King Henry is thrown to the ground in defeat and at that moment, out of shame, he wants to back out of the peace treaty.  Thomas More, an English lawyer, humanist, author and statesman who acts as the angel on King Henry’s right shoulder, talks some sense into him.  In the end, the King goes through with the signing of the Treaty the next day.  I wasn’t surprised to see King Henry, after the signing, go into a demon possessed- like violent hissy fit as he pulled down curtains, turned over chairs and tables all the while screaming his lungs out.  I have to give it to him.  I have felt like reverting to toddler fits from frustration of having to do something that I rally did not want to do but he took it to a whole new level.  Then again, he is the King.  

As the King who believes he is above all law, he continues his illicit trysts, this time with Mary, the daughter of his ambassador to France, Thomas Boleyn.  He finds great pleasure in being with Mary, especially since she has already been with King Francois who lustfully calls her his English Mare.  It seemed like King Henry saw her as a possession to steal from his nemesis.  Soon he grows tired of her, thus Ambassador Boleyn calls on his other daughter, Anne to pick up where Mary left off.  After all, having Mary with the King was profitable to the family.  Basically, Ambassador Boleyn is pimping his daughters.  Creepy.   

As I mentioned in the last blog, King Henry’s kingship was not only called into question by the Duke of Buckingham but he was also plotting his assassination.  At first I thought that the Duke was way out of line, but after seeing the King’s behavior with French King Francois and his licentious trysts, I started to root for him.  Although I was fully aware that King Henry lived for many years to grow to be the huge man that we know him to be, I was still rooting for the Duke.  Of course his attempt failed and he was sentenced to death.  It was hard for me to watch the once dignified, kingly man reduced to a sniveling baby as he rested his head on the board in front of a crowd, including his daughter, to be beheaded.  I had to keep reminding myself that it was only a movie, but then again, this really did happen in history.   

Funny enough, my brief sadness was quelled by the artistic way in which the writers of The Tudors translated this horrific moment onto screen.  At the same time, King Henry rushed his way to see his wife’s maiden whom he impregnated.  Actually he didn’t go to see her.  He wanted visual confirmation of the birth of his first son.  So there was a sequence of scenes bopping back and forth between the Duke of Buckingham losing his life while the elated King Henry, gained a son.  It was poetic! 

My rating – 4 out of 5 gold pounds 

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

THE TUDORS: EPISODE ONE – SEASON ONE

Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII

My first impression of The Tudors was based on what I heard some critics and regular viewers say about it from its inception.  I heard that The Tudors was critically acclaimed but at the same time, it was riddled with too many lust filled scenes.  ‘Well, it wouldn’t be called a “Showtime” movie without such’, I thought.   I wanted to give it a try since it began when my favorite HBO mini series, Rome, just ended.  I wanted to continue on the historical drama roll but alas, I was not a subscriber of the Showtime channel, nor was I going to pay extra just to see this series.  So I resigned to justifying my lot with the notion that The Tudors was nothing but a sad attempt at walking in the footsteps of Rome.  I continued to lower the standards of The Tudors without even watching it by marking it as unbelievable, especially because of the image I’ve had of King Henry VIII as a fat unattractive man who couldn’t possibly have looked as good as actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers who plays him, even on his best day as a young man.

Anyway, as I watched the opening scene of The Tudors set at Ducal Palace in Italy, I was not surprised by the magnificent scenery and cinematography.  Also, the costuming of the French guard was superbly eye catching and historically accurate. 

I loved that the first order of business, just about 3 minutes into the show, was a murder; and not just any murder, the murder of King Henry VIII’s uncle and Ambassador to Italy by none other than the  French.  This truly gripped my attention and I must say from that point, I was hooked.  Would a war ensue as a result?  I was definitely going to stay tuned.

Then I wasn’t at all surprised to see that in 20 minutes of the show, the King already had two trysts with two other women besides his wife.  One of whom became pregnant.  The King’s frustration about not having a male heir became apparent as he complained to a priest, so I started to wonder if this child would turn out to be the son he’s always wanted or another girl whom he might end up killing.  Only after his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon urging did he attempt to have sex with her.   But since she was in a chapel praying at that moment, he seemed more than happy to drop that notion and resign to taking one of her maidens to bed instead.  What a man!

Back to the murder – As a result, King Henry makes a swift decision to go to war with France.  When he consulted with his court after his decision, everyone agrees of course, including the Cardinal, Thomas Wolsey, played by actor Sam Neill, who later devises a fiendish plan to win the favor of the French by creating a “Treaty of Universal and Perpetual Peace” which he convinces the King to go along with instead of war.    The Cardinal plays to the need of the King to become a legend or in his words, “Immortal” through some great act and the great act would be a wonderful “humanitarian” effort to unite Europe in peace.  Really and truly, the Cardinal, knowing that the Pope was dying, was setting himself up in a cunning Chess play to win the votes of the French for the Papacy. 

The liaisons continue and the jealousy of the Duke of Buckingham, one of the members of the court, who believes he should have risen as the King of England due to his royal blood, devises a way of assassinating  King Henry.  Then we are briefly introduced to the infamous Anne Boleyn.  What a cliffhanger.  I’ll be holding my bowl of popcorn closely for episode two.

My rating – 3 gold pounds out of five

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Freedom of Speech: How Low Can You Go?

  

How far should Freedom of Speech go?  The documentary, “Shouting Fire – Stories from the Edge of Free Speech” exposes this question.  Throughout the work, there are interviews of people and instances where freedom of speech is taken to that edge and beyond.  One such interview highlighted Professor Ward Churchill (not to be confused with the acclaimed statesman, literary genius and Nobel Prize winner, Sir Winston Churchill). In Churchill’s now infamous essay, “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens”, he tries to make a case as to the supposed ‘justice” in the 9/11 attacks.  He believes that the many years of unjust acts meted out under U.S. Policy before September 11th 2001 justified the terrorists acts that killed over 3,000 innocent American civilians that day.  In his interview, Churchill went on to criticize the television networks as a whole for calling the 9/11 attacks, “senseless acts” when in his words, America has been responsible for a great number of senseless acts upon innocent humans, i.e., the Wounded Knee Massacre, the violent U.S. occupation in Nicaragua etc.

   Ward Churchill is fully aware of his first amendment right and he took it to that edge, but one important factor about Churchill weighed heavily upon him.  He was a Professor of an institution of higher learning (University of Colorado at Boulder) and he taught his ideas to students; young people with impressionable minds.  During what looked like university hearings where Churchill’s future at the college was at stake, students showed up in full force, erratically ranting and raving, in defense of their professor.  Churchill was eventually fired, even after he took the matter to court. I believe that if his ideas of 9/11 simply being a case of, “…chickens coming home to roost” (or Karma upon America for past atrocities), were left to grow and cultivate in the fertile minds of students, cases of homegrown terrorism would have sprung up as a result.  There would easily be more Timothy McVeighs running around with blind hatred and revenge for an entire country and its innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the supposed practices they hate.

   Where was Ward Churchill during the Wounded Knee Massacre?  Where was he during the Battles in Nicaragua?  Where was he on September 11th 2001 when innocent people, as well as four of my relatives (including my three month old cousin) ran for their lives out of the Twin Towers, among the crowds and ash, losing their shoes, their sense of security and fellow co-workers in the mayhem?  Churchill was no where near these events which he speaks so “expertly” about.  Thus he can basically run off at the mouth without reservation. 

   One line in particular that startled me the most is when he said, “If there’s consequences, it’s not free.”  I thought that was such insanity, especially coming out of a Professor’s mouth.  He came across as a child who just got caught doing something naughty and his only defense while whining was, “But I thought I was free.”   With everything we do or say, there are consequences.  Every action causes a reaction but we are still free.  Eagles are free to fly but that doesn’t mean that they fly 24/7.  They have to take time to stop and rest or they’ll die of exhaustion.  Similarly, although we have the 1st Amendment right of Freedom of Speech, we have to couple that with discernment or we’ll just end up going over the edge.

February 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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February 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment