A Man for All Seasons

Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein

Just about a week ago I was out to dinner with friends and the conversation turned to a discussion of favorite movies.  I nominated as one of mine A Man for All Seasons, the story of Thomas More, which I haven't seen for some time.

Well, at the end of another day of snow here in the Boston area I turned on the TV this evening and to my happy surprise found myself only a couple minutes into A Man for All Seasons!  

The movie excels in cinematography and acting but Robert Bolt's adaptation of his stage play for the big screen is, in my opinion, the brightest star here.  Much of the script for the play survives intact in the movie and here's a snip.  The scene finds More imprisoned and receiving a brief visit from his wife, daughter (Margaret) and son-in-law.  
MORE When a man takes an oath, Meg, he's holding his own self in his own hands. Like water. (He cups his hands) And if he opens his fingers then - he needn't hope to find himself again. Some men aren't capable of this, but I'd be loathe to think your father one of them.

MARGARET In any State that was half good, you would be raised up high, not here, for what you've done already. It's not your fault the State's three-quarters bad. Then if you elect to suffer for it, you elect yourself a hero.

MORE That's very neat. But look now . . . If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we'd live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all . . . why then perhaps we must stand fast a little - even at the risk of being heroes.

MARGARET (Emotionally) But in reason! Haven't you done as much as God can reasonably want?

MORE Well . . . finally . . . it isn't a matter of reason; finally it's a matter of love.
The more things change, the more they remain the same...

Well, I've just ordered the DVD on an Amazon.com gift card I received at Christmas!  I need more time to drink in the fine wine of this movie's dialogue.

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  1. I saw part of the movie the other night, too! What rich writing and wondrous acting. Scofield had a renaissance, of sorts, in the 1990s, with "Quiz Show" and "The Crucible." What a talent.

  2. Love this one too. (Robert Shaw who played Henry VIII came from Cornwall- not a nice man in real life either so they say !)

    There are so many memorable parts to savour:These are a couple of my favourites:
    The Duke of Norfolk: Oh confound all this. I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!
    Sir Thomas More: And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?
    The Duke of Norfolk: The nobility of England...
    Sir Thomas More: The nobility of England, My Lord, would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount, but you'll labour like scholars over a bulldog's pedigree.


  3. Good Morning! One of my favorite movies. Luckily my husband & I were able to watch the other night too(TCM). Appreciate the comments.


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