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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is an outstanding study of a man faced with a harrowingly difficult moral choice. The king wishes to divorce his wife, which at the time was not allowed. A man stands his ground but is executed (not graphic) for his steadfast beliefs. There's some drinking.
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What's the story?
The Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), is a man of great principle and a devout Catholic in the time of King Henry VIII. The King wants to dissolve his marriage to the queen (a Spanish princess and the widow of his late brother) so that he can marry Anne Boleyn. All around him, courtiers and politicians plot to use this development to their advantage, or at least to hold on to their positions, given the conflict between the Church's position that marriage is indissoluble and the King's that it must be dissolved. For More, the choice is clear, and God comes before the King. But because of More's incorruptible reputation, his support is crucial. Every possible form of persuasion and coercion is attempted, but More will not make any affirmative statement on behalf of the divorce (though he refrains from opposing it explicitly). And More will not lend his allegiance to the new church headed by the King. Finally, having lost his position, his fortune, his reputation (on false charges) and his liberty, More is sentenced to death. He accepts it with grace and faith, forgiving the executioner.
Is it any good?
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS is an outstanding (and brilliantly filmed) study of a man who is faced with a harrowingly difficult moral choice. The choice remains clear to him, even at great cost not just to himself but to his family. Yet within his clear moral imperative, he does calibrate. His conscience does not require him to work against or even speak out against the divorce; he need only keep silent.
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