Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Anne of Cleves in the Movies

"If I do not please the King... will he kill me?" - Anne of Cleves in The Tudors (2009)

Elsa Lanchester was the first on-screen Anne of Cleves in the Oscar-winning The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). Shown here opposite Anne's fictitious lover, played by John Loder, Anne was shown as being clever and wily, deliberately making herself unattractive so as to extricate herself from marriage to the dangerous King Henry. In reality, Elsa Lanchester was married to Charles Laughton, who starred opposite her as Henry VIII.

In this still from the BBC series The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970), Elvi Hale is shown as Anne of Cleves, opposite Keith Michell as Henry VIII. Hale's performance and the script, written by Jean Morris, was the most historically accurate portrayals of Henry's fourth queen.


After the rapturous critical response to his portrayal of King Henry in The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Australian Keith Michell was re-cast in a movie version of the same tale - Henry VIII and his Six Wives (1972.) This time, however, the actresses cast to play his queens were different, as was their treatment in the script. Whilst the characterisations of Katherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour were almost identical to how they had been in the original television story, the depiction of Anne Boleyn was both less sympathetic and more enigmatic and the story of Henry's marriage to Catherine Howard was infinitely more kind to Catherine than the television show had been, the storylines for Anne of Cleves and Katharine Parr were drastically reduced. This time, Anne of Cleves - portrayed as a monstrously ugly "Flanders Mare" by Jenny Bos - was essentially nothing more than a silent, grotesque cameo. A fun fan video of this movie, showing all the wives initially in order, can be watched here.

Seen here in another role, Fran├žoise Seigner played Anne of Cleves in the French television movie, La jument du roi (1973), set during the brief six months when Anne was Queen of England.

Catherine Siggins is shown here as Anne of Cleves when she appeared in the third episode of Dr. David Starkey's 4-part documentary series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001.)

Pia Gerard in a still from the show's epilogue was once again a quiet, cameo Anne of Cleves in the 2-part British television movie, Henry VIII (2003.)

British singer Joss Stone was unexpectedly cast as Anne of Cleves for Series 3 of the Showtime series, The Tudors. She appeared in the series' final three episodes and in two more in the show's fourth and final episode. It was a more sympathetic and glamorous interpretation of Anne's character, although the essential goodness of her personality was once again stressed by the script. She had originally been approached by the show's creator with the intention of having her play Henry's third wife, Jane Seymour, when she was introduced in the middle of Series Two, but Joss's touring contract made that impossible. Thus, she auditioned for the part of Jane's successor, Anne of Cleves.

1 comment:

  1. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves, she really did make her very sympathetic.

    BTW, I like the way you've done the captions on the photos. Alas, when I tried to use captions similarly in a post earlier today, all sorts of strange technical problems started to occur, pictures jumping around, disappearing, and so forth! Have you had any issues like that?

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