Man for All Seasons, A (Blu-ray) (1966)

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Released 2-Nov-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-The Life of Saint Thomas More (18:18)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 120:27
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Fred Zinnemann
Studio
Distributor

ViaVision
Starring Wendy Hiller
Leo McKern
Robert Shaw
Orson Welles
Suzannah York
Paul Scofield
Nigel Davenport
John Hurt
Corin Redgrave
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Georges Delerue


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Tudor England: Cardinal Wolsey (Orson Wells), Lord Chancellor of England, summons Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), a member of the King’s Council and a close friend of King Henry VIII (Robert Shaw); Henry’s present queen has been unable to produce a male heir so Henry wants the marriage annulled so that he can marry Anne Boleyn. However, only the Pope can grant the annulment, and he has not agreed although the House of Commons and the King’s Council, except for More, are all in support of the application. Wolsey asks More to support the application, but he cannot, citing his conscience. Later, when Henry visits More’s home in Chelsea, he urges More to help him get the divorce but without success; More only agrees not to oppose the King, which upsets his wife Alice (Wendy Hiller), daughter Margaret (Susannah York) and Margaret’s fiancée Will Roper (Corin Redgrave), as well as his friend the Duke of Norfolk (Nigel Davenport), the Marshall of England. More believes that by not opposing Henry, and remaining silent, he will be safe but he is mistaken for Thomas Cromwell (Leo McKern), Secretary of the King’s Council, and his acolyte Richard Rich (John Hurt) will manipulate the evidence and commit perjury in order to show that a refusal to take the Oath of Succession is not legal silence but treason.

     A Man for All Seasons won six Oscars in 1967, for best picture, director, actor, screenplay, cinematography and costume design, attesting to the quality of talent both in front and behind the camera. A Man for All Seasons is based on the stage play written by Robert Bolt, who also wrote the literate and intelligent Oscar winning screenplay. Bolt was David Lean’s screenwriter of choice, among other films writing Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Doctor Zhivago (1965), for which he won his first Oscar. The film was directed by Fred Zinnemann, who also won an Oscar for From Here to Eternity (1953) but missed out for High Noon (1952); his direction in A Man for All Seasons is unfussy, with a number of wide, static shots allowing the sets and acting to take centre stage. The Oscar winning cinematography was by Ted Moore, who also lensed most of the early James Bond films from Dr No (1962) to The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). The wonderful locations, including Hampton Court and Beauline Abbey, the detailed interiors shot at Shepparton Studios and the lavish Oscar winning costumes by Elizabeth Haffenden (who also won an Oscar for Ben Hur (1960)) and Joan Bridge mean that A Man for All Seasons looks and feels expensive, belying it’s modest $2 million budget.

     A Man for All Seasons is equally well served in front of the camera where Paul Scofield is compelling as a learned, clever and intelligent man whose conscience and convictions compel him to defy his King and the entreaties of his family and friends, even to his death. His belief in the law and his God is absolute and the sequence where More faces his accusers in open court is eloquent and moving, his reaction to what he knows is perjury sad, rather than angry. Robert Shaw and Wendy Hiller were also nominated for Oscars for supporting roles and although neither won they are both very good. Leo McKern is great as the weasely and manipulative Cromwell while it is fun watching a young and moustached John Hurt, who sadly died earlier this year, at the very start of his long career.

     Made 50 years ago, A Man for all Seasons may not have the action and excitement level of more recent films. It is more a filmed stage play but the stunning sets and costumes, gorgeous cinematography, an intelligent and clever script and compelling acting add up to a film that is powerful, beautifully looking and moving.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     A Man for all Seasons is presented in the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Although by no means perfect the film still looks very good, on occasion spectacular. Parts, especially the opening, are quite grainy and the first few sequences have somewhat dull colours but this soon settles down. Some of the colours, such as the red of Orson Wells’ robes or Robert Shaw’s gold cloak are sumptuous and vibrant, other sequences such as the boats on the river display vibrant blues and greens. The sets, both real and constructed, are richly detailed and every hair of Robert Shaw’s beard or Paul Scofield’s lined face is easy to see. Some interior colours become brownish, which does affect skin tones in those scenes.

     I did see an occasional fleeting small mark, slight edge enhancement and the HD did show up the deficiencies in Orson Wells’ face make-up, but otherwise everything was fine.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

     The film was originally shown with mono sound; this Blu-ray provides an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track.

     This is a film that depends on its dialogue and the HD audio provides it clearly, helped of course by the quality of the actors who deliver it! The surrounds and rears were used mostly for the score and occasional horse hooves or crowd voices. The medieval sounding music by Georges Delerue was used very sparingly. I really did not notice any subwoofer use, but nor was it required.

     I did not notice any hiss or distortion.

     Lip synchronisation was fine except in a couple of places; in one discussion with Rich Paul Scofield’s lips move without dialogue and in one inquest sequence there was a slight mis-synchronisation.

Audio Ratings Summary
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Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
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Extras

Original Theatrical Trailer (3:20)

The Life of Saint Thomas More (18:18)

     Made in 2006 and featuring film footage, paintings and engravings and comments by authors Alison Weir, Dr John Guy and Thomas More studies centre founder Dr Gerald B. Wegemer this featurette is a useful and succinct overview of the life and attitudes of Thomas More, including his poems and books such as the influential Utopia, and his disagreement with Henry VIII. Well worth watching to gain an insight into More’s opposition to Henry’s intention to annul his marriage, the conflict with the Roman Church and Henry becoming head of the Church of England.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region Free Blu-ray of A Man for all Seasons has the above trailer and “life” but adds an audio commentary by Lem Dodds, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman and an isolated music score in DTS-HD MA 2.0. The UK Region B Blu-ray has all the above and adds a 30 minute interview about the film with Neil Sinyard, which would make the UK release the pick.

Summary

     Literate and intelligent films like A Man for all Seasons are in short supply these days but, 50 years after being made, A Man for all Seasons remains a powerful, beautifully acted, stupendous looking and compelling film experience. A DVD of the film has been around for over a decade; this Blu-ray presentation of the film from Madman / ViaVision Entertainment is a significant improvement so fans of the film, or anyone interested in quality cinema, should not hesitate.

     The video is very good for its age, the audio fine. The extra is interesting but we miss out on the rest of the extras available overseas, which is a pity.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, July 08, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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