I Am Henry – Film Review by Historian Elizabeth Norton

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Elizabeth Norton

Elizabeth Norton

ELIZABETH NORTON, the British historian, broadcaster and author specialising in the queens of England and the Tudor period, has reviewed our award-winning short, I AM HENRY. Ms. Norton has a double-first class degree from Cambridge University and a masters degree from Oxford University. This review was first published on her website (09.12.15).

“The most innovative depiction of Henry VIII’s story that I have seen in a long time.”

“I AM HENRY is visually stunning and entirely compelling. It is the most innovative depiction of Henry VIII’s story that I have seen in a long time. The film opens shortly after the death of Henry VIII, as he is lying in state on the way to his funeral at Windsor. During the night he meets with the spirits of his first two wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and the now-grown Henry, Duke of Cornwall, his short-lived eldest son.

Highly charged and authentic

The scenes between Henry and Anne, who was his greatest passion in life, are highly charged, with the chemistry between the two actors apparent. The use of quoted material in the speech of these two, such as Anne’s reference to Henry being struck with the dart of love for her (a claim he made in one of his letters) adds authenticity to the scenes. Excellent use was also made of the emotionally disturbing accounts of Anne’s time in the Tower following her arrest for treason in 1536.

“The depiction of Anne Boleyn’s execution was superb.”

The scenes between Henry and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, were similarly excellent, with the Spanish queen lamenting the loss of her children. By informing him that these lost infants were present there with them, she offered Henry a possibility of redemption in keeping with the sentiments of her last letter to him as she lay dying in January 1536.  Finally, the depiction of Anne Boleyn’s execution was superb, which was juxtaposed with Henry’s realisation in 1547 of his own death.

Historically accurate, powerful portrayals

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. In just over 20 minutes, it managed to convey the essence of the relationship between Henry and the two most important women in his life, as well as delving into the inner mind of England’s most famous king. Historically, it was very accurate, with little period details – such as the fact that Anne Boleyn recognised some of the faces in the crowd at her execution – adding to the realism and the power of the portrayals.”

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