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Thursday, January 2nd, 2020
10:18 pm - Collected Fanfiction Post
Links to all fanfiction I've written in various fandoms. That I'm admitting to.

Alias )


Angel the Series )


Babylon 5 )

Battlestar Galactica )

Breaking Bad )

Buffy the Vampire Slayer )


Citizen Kane )

Doctor Who )

Farscape )


Earth: Final Conflict )



Heroes )

Highlander: The Series )

Historical Fiction )

Lost )

Merlin )

Mythology )


Once upon a time )

Rome )

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine )

Star Trek: The Next Generation )


Star Wars )

Sunset Boulevard )

The Americans )


The Beatles )

The Borgias )
The Godfather )


Torchwood )


X-Men )

The West Wing )


Crossovers )

current mood: exhausted

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Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
11:49 am - Better Call Saul 1.09
Rarely have I ever...

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1069481.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: distressed

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Monday, March 30th, 2015
2:28 pm - Black Sails 2.10.
In which the great second season ends fabulously.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1069311.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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Saturday, March 28th, 2015
9:41 am - The Musketeers 2.10
As opposed to the excellent episode last week, the finale feels a bit like an anti climax to me, though some good stuff happens.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1068837.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: calm

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7:46 am - Life after Death, the Plantagenet way
This week was Richard III week in England; being frightfully busy, I could only catch glimpses from abroad. But have some links:

The poem by Carol Ann Duffy written specifically for the reburial at Leicester, read by Benedict Cumberbatch


The detective novel that made the case for a generation: Josephine Tey is hardly Shakespeare, but if there's one work of fiction that has reliable acted as the pro-Richard counterpoint and for many first introduction to the controversy for more than half a century now, it's that short and entertaining volume, "The Daughter of Time". (By now the research she used is outdated, of course, but it's still an immensely readable book.) The New Yorker article describes how it came to be written, and which effect it has.

Since I've been reading up on my Tudors in recent months: Imperial Ambassador Chapuys dissed Henry VIII. in his dispatches by comparing him to Richard III. not once but twice. Or rather, the first time he reports others doing the dissing:

"Every day I am visited by people of quality, who break my head with speeches and writings, giving me to understand that King Richard, the last of his name, was never so much hated by his subjects as this present king is, and yet that he was dethroned by two or threethousand Frenchmen under the leadership of a prince hardly known in this country."


Far from getting his head broken, Chapuys seems to have taken note, because some time later, he used the Richard comparison himself in a direct conversation with Henry as a stealth insult. This was during another round of arguments about Henry's treatment of Katherine and Mary. Henry said that since Archbishop Cramner had declared his marriage to Katherine null and void, he was legitimately married to Anne now, and Mary could no longer considered or be treated as his legitimate daughter, surely Chapuys could see that. Upon which the Empire struck back (sorry, I couldn't resist), telling the King:

"With regard to the sentence pronounced by the Archbishop of Canterbury on the divorce suit, he ought to make as little of it as that of which King Richard caused to be pronounced by the bishop of Bath against the sons of King Edward, declaring them bastards."

This was a particuarly masterful burn because of course Bishop Stillington, the bishop of Bath mentioned, who swore he'd witnessed a contract between Edward and Lady Eleanor Butler which automatically rendered the Edward/Elizabeth Woodville marriage null and void, had by his testimony not just declared Edward's two sons bastards, but all the children of that marriage. Including the oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, Henry VIIII.'s mother. In other words, Chapuys wasn't just saying "you're behaving just like your family's arch nemesis, the guy your dad called an ursurping tyrant", he also said "if your daughter is a bastard now, then so was your mother, which means the Pole family has a far more legitimate claim to the throne than you".

To give credit where due: Henry wasn't bad at the stealth insult game himself. Contrary to his image, he didn't shout back at this but told Chapuys magnanimously he could send him several books which would explain why Mary was a bastard now and couldn't inherit. (Chapuys was a highly trained lawyer.)

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1068614.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: restless

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Thursday, March 26th, 2015
11:24 am - The Americans 3.09
Weird thing about Americans episodes: when they're over, you tend to go "what? But that can't have been the entire episode?!?" more often than not. This one also had a great title, to wit:

Do mail robots dream of electric sheep? )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1068488.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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Wednesday, March 25th, 2015
5:20 pm - Bates Motel 3.03
In Norma and Norman are heartbreaking.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1068280.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
2:25 pm - Better Call Saul 1.08
In which a horrible possibility occurs to your faithful reviewer.

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This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1067881.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: scared

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7:44 am - Once upon a Time 4.16
In which Ursula gets a backstory.

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This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1067741.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pensive

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Monday, March 23rd, 2015
6:02 pm - Ford Maddox Ford: The Fifth Queen (Book Review)
It occured to me that the number of internet surfing people familiar with the Charles Laughton movie I mentioned the last time might be low, so just in case, this is Laughton as Henry, in one of the most famous scenes, and you see why the performance became iconic:




Following [personal profile] rozk's advice, I read Ford Maddox Ford's trilogy on Katherine Howard, The Fifth Queen. The individual volumes are titled "The FIfth Queen: How she came to court", "Privy Seal: His last Venture" and "The Fifth Queen Crowned". Privy Seal, in case you're wondering, is Thomas Cromwell; it's what people in this trilogy call him in two third of all cases, which can be a bit irritating at the start. But then you accept it as part of Ford's version of the Henrician world. He actually pulls of plausible 16th century English in his characters' dialogues (lots of thees and thous are the least of it, the rhythm of it feels right, which is the hardest thing to imitate, and the language all round, descriptions and all, is drop dead gorgeous. The man can paint with words.

On the downside, the main character is an OC. (Original Character.) I'm not exaggarating. You know those fanfiction AUs which take it so far that all the characters share with the originals are the names, because, say, Magneto instead of a Jewish Holocaust survivor is suddenly captain of the football team on an American High School? Ford's Katherine Howard takes it that far. Down to the externals - historical Katherine was small and on the plumb side, Ford's Katherine is tall and slender. Historical Katherine loved to dance, loved dresses and if the Royal accounts are anything to go by was the most gift receiving of Henry's queens who wore a new dress practically every day; Ford's Katherine never dances, refuses most gifts and wears only three dresses (after she arrived in rags in the first place). Only one letter from historical Katherine Howard survives, this one, in which she comes across as a young girl in love who makes the occasional grammar mistake and seems to find writing painful. Ford's Katherine Howard, on the other hand, is such a scholar of Greek and Latin that her tutor, supposedly best in the realm, freely admits she surpasses him, and she has such a gift of languages that she learns German in only a few months. Speaking of her education, historical Katherine Howard grew up at her stepgrandmother's the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk's place in Lambeth, in circumstances which kinder historians have compared to a high school dormitory and more hostile ones to a high class brothel, because the girls were visited by the male members of the household there at night all the time, leading to much "puffing and blowing" (description from witness against poor Katherine later). You can actually easily make a case for sexual abuse there because Katherine was eleven or twelve when her music master Henry Manox first laid hands on her. Ford doesn't exclude the Duchess of Norfolk's house (that's impossible because of the role it played in her death) but refers to it as a brief interlude in Katherine's childhood, after which she grew up in the North in splendid isolation and with her tutor teaching her all the knowledge of the ancients. Historical Thomas Culpepper (the guy the one surviving letter is addressed to) was a young member of Henry's household; he was responsible changing the dressing of the king's leg every day. (Henry was suffering from ulcers by then, and the leg stank horribly),; Katherine only met him when she came to court. He also had a less than savoury past; he raped a woman and killed a man, which the King forgave him for. Ford's Thomas Culpepper, on the other hand, is Katherine's cousin who spent years of that Northern adolescence with her; he's a drunkard, has an explosive temper and not entirely sane, but he's utterly devoted to Katherine, and has no affair with her after her marriage. Historical Katherine came to court as Anne of Cleves' lady-in-waiting and quickly caught Henry's eyes; Ford's Katherine comes on her own initiative to London and ends up in the Lady Mary's household, not in Anne of Cleves. And so forth, and so on. Now Ford's Katherine actually is a good character in her own right; but except for the name, she has nothing to do with Katherine Howard.

I was briefly wondering why Ford didn't just write about Katherine Parr when he wanted to write about one of Henry's queens who was a scholar. (Katherine Parr even wrote and published books.) Or about Anne Boleyn (not a scholar, but definitely very well read and due to those seven years in France at least bilngual). Either of them also qualify as queens with a definite religious agenda. And then it dawned on to me: they were both reformers. Ford's Katherine Howard, otoh, is a faithful Catholic who tries to bring Henry and England back to Rome. (This is actually not outside the realm of possiblity in that most of the Howards - though not all - were religiously conservative and anti reformist; certainly Ghastly Uncle Norfolk and Bishop Gardiner were pushing the Catholic agenda during the time of Katherine's queenship. What religious opinions Katherine herself held is simply not known, one way or the other.) Ford's famously a Catholic writer, though he's too subtle to play the reiligious divide entirely black and white. Ghastly Uncle Norfolk and Gardiner are both repellent and egotastic; Katherine is quickly disillusioned with them, and they contribute to her downfall when they realise her idea of bringing the Catholic religion back also includes everyone who profited from the Dissolution giving all that money back as well. Otoh the Reformers are mainly presented as bible thumping somewhat hilarious fanatics, by Archbishop Cramner who is written an ineffectual, sometimes well meaning coward, and by Cromwell who is pro reform not for religious conviction but because it's useful as a force against France and Spain and to remodel England into an absolute monarchy.

Cromwell is also hands down the best character in the trilogy. I hadn't expected him to be around much at all, given he died on Katherine Howard's wedding day, but she doesn't agree to the marriage until the end of volume II, so for the first two volumes he's not just around but the main antagonist. This is Cromwell as a villain, but hands down the most entertaining villain!Cromwell I've yet encountered either on the page or on screen. He's also quite plausible (minus those 700 spies he commands - did someone do a headcount or where did they get that number from?). The fun kind of villain, smart, gregarious, very affable (when he's around, even people who loathe him, including our heroine, find him oddly compelling), and like Mantel's Cromwell a modern man in a world decidedly unmodern he's trying to transform, only in Ford's universe this is not a good thing, but a bad one. (He's not just anti modernist here; inventing the absolute monarchy, what Cromwell calls kingcraft, has an obvious downside. Not only if your monarch is Henry VIII.) He almost reaches Worthy Opponent territory, and when he does fall, Katherine never stops to regret that he's charged with treason because she knows he's innocent of that charge, and wanted him to fall for the right reasons (i.e. lots of dead and ruined people), in a just trial. Henry to this says the Tudor equivalent of "you sweet summer child". Anyway, Cromwell and Katherine in this trilogy are the two characters who truly have world changing ambitions - she wants to turn England back to the idealised place she imagines it was pre-Anne Boleyn, he wants to turn England into a modern dictatorship, essentially, with everyine functioning as a cog in the wheel - as opposed to everyone else, who isn't in it for the big picture but more for what they personally can get, or in Mary Tudor's case for vengeance on her father for all he's done to her and her mother. (Mary, btw, is also a plausible interpretation on the woman, though not mine, and she has some excellent scenes with Katherine and with not so dear old dad.) They're the two visionaries, and you get the sense that Ford is really really sorry he can't do what the Spanish Chronicle did and keep Cromwell around longer, making him into the one who brings Katherine down. Reluctantly, he does kill him off on schedule but not before Cromwell hands over his very own copy of Il Principe by Machiavelli to Cramner's sidekick Lascelles and tells him to keep up the good work; Lascelles in the third volume becomes the character mainly responsible for providing the testimonies against Katherine. (Which in the Ford-verse are false or falsified.)

However, the ultimate responsibility comes down to Henry himself, and this is something very well foreshadowed in the first volume where Katherine starts by seeing him as misled by evil advisors and as basically a pitiable bottle of emotions, and at the end has to realise he cold bloodedly planned and executed the main intrigue of the novel. In direct contrast to the scene usually in every telling of the Katheirne Howard story - Katherine, about to be arrested, tries to reach Henry on the great gallery of Hampton Court and fails, her screams providing today's tourist guides with a ghost, here Katherine's final confrontation with Henry is quiet and seething, yet dignified, on her side as by that point she's thoroughly disillusioned and rips him a new one with an absolutely scathing speech, which includes the information that she'd rather die than be with him any longer (that's where Ford uses the "I die a queen but I would rather have died the wife of Thomas Culpepper" legend of Spanish Chronicle fame). It's Henry who runs and screams after her.

On the one hand, this is emotionally satisfying. Ford isn't the only fictionalizer of the Tudor saga who gives in to the temptation of letting one of Henry's wives tell Henry just what she and a good deal of posterity think of him. (Maxwell Anderson's Anne Boleyn in Anne of the Thousand Days does it twice, once early in the play when he first makes a pass and she actually means her No, emphatically so, making her point by declaring: "I've heard what your courtiers say and I've seen what you are. You're spoiled and vengeful and bloody. Your poetry is sour and your music is worse. You make love as you eat with a good deal of noise and no subtlety." And the other time in the Tower, in a fictional encounter, the "Elizabeth shall be queen" speech you'll find on Youtube.) On the other hand, it, like any of the Katherine scenes in the Fifth Queen trilogy brings me back to the essential problem I have. Now Katherine Howard in Tudor fiction usually comes across in one of two variations: either she's a good natured stupid good time girl, or she's a bad natured stupid good time girl. (Mean girl Katherines are rarer, but they exist, including the Cat in Katherine Longshore's novel Gilt who feels like she's directly ripped off Philippa Gregory's Anne Boleyn, as a manipulative selfish monster to contrast with the saintly exploited heroine.) I would have welcomed a take on Katherine Howard which offers a third interpretation! If it had been provided in a way that makes me believe the character as Katherine Howard. Instead, it feels as if the author in order to write her as "good" felt he had to take away everything not compatible with a laterday Saint Joan, including her love of dancing and dresses, or her lack of education compared to Henry's previous (and subsequent) wives or her early sexual experiences (if you want to use a neutral term for what really sounds like abuse at least in the Manox case - Franices Dereham when she was a bit older sounds more consentual), when the fact that subsequently Henry had parliament pass a law that made it high treason for any woman marrying the king to NOT tell him her entire sexual history within 20 days says so much about Henry (not Katherine). It doesn't make me feel that Ford is defending Katherine Howard. It makes me feel Ford looked at Katherine Howard, found her unworthy to be a lkeable heroine, and replaced her by a completely different character, and so joined the ranks of her judges.

(Though at least I have a suspicion as to why he changed Katherine so thoroughly. I'm a bit mystified about what he did with Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford. Instead of being Anne's thirty something sister-in-law, she's Anne's really old cousin with a wrinkly face, white hair and gout, barely able to move and eternally frightend by her cousin (not sister-in-law) Anne Boleyn's fate. She's also supposedly in charge of Mary Tudor's household but in reality incapable of handling Mary's wilful ladies who run circles around her. Katherine later, when becoming Queen, takes her into her own household because she feels sorry for the old dear. When her enemies try to set her and Culpepper up by planting a drunken Culpepper in her rooms so the King can catch them, Katherine, thinking quickly, tells old Lady Rochford to stay because that way she'll be able to prove she was never alone with Thomas Culpepper. (Who is her cousin. In conclusion, cousins.) Which is about the most original explanation for the Katherine Howard - Thomas Culpepper - Lady Rochford situation I've ever encountered. Now on the one hand, this makes Ford's Lady Rochford a rarity - a non villainous Jane Rochford written before Julia Foxe's biography came out. On the other hand, ????? How on earth did Ford even get this idea, based on just about any source he could have had? Where does Grandma!Rochford come from?) (There's also an old knight Rochford, a good guy, no Boleyn relation, who marries one of Mary's maids just for extra confusion, so there are two Lady Rochfords about. The other one is called Celia.)

All this being said? These are still three fascinating books. And while Ford's Katherine is essentially a tragic saint, he also has a sense of humor about her; Katherine's early frustration when everyone in the Lady Mary's household thinks she must be Cromwell's spy (which Cromwell totally has counted on, which was why he was very obvious about planting her there), with her every protest only confirming everyone's conviction that she must be working for him, is a case in point. And his entertaining Machiavellian Cromwell is just what you need if Mantel's Flawless Cromwell has grown a bit too much. Finally, as mentioned: it's always emotionally satisfying to have one of the wives give Henry a "the reason you suck" speech. You can download all three books for free at Gutenberg.

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1067519.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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Sunday, March 22nd, 2015
9:33 am - Black Sails 2.09
In which any kind of above cut remark would be spoilery.

What do I want? )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1067243.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: indescribable

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Saturday, March 21st, 2015
7:18 pm - The Musketeers 2.09
The official title of this episode is The Accused, but you might as well call it...

Rochefort Strikes Back )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1066762.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pensive

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Friday, March 20th, 2015
1:03 pm - The Trouble with Henry
Some weeks ago when we briefly talked about a modernisation of the Tudor tales in the comments, one thing tat came up is how hard it is to put someone like Henry VIII. in a present day setting and still let the story play out the same way - not only because killing your wives lands you in jail these days (yes, unless you're very rich and privileged and have a good lawyer, but you still haven't got the same kind of ultimate social power Henry had over his wives), but also because divorce is more easily obtainable, the stakes in religion aren't there anymore (for both sides), wanting a man who bullies his first wife and daughter the way Henry did also reflects differently on a modern day second wife, and so forth.

But brushing up on my fictionalized Tudors and contemporaries also reminded that even within his own historical context, Henry is a tricky one to present in a a believable, plausible way. Not coincidentally is this managed most effectively by Sansom in the Shardlake series, where Henry is off stage for all but two books, and even in those has only short (but highly memorable) appearances; the effects of his reign on both fictional and real people of all classes are what interests the author (and those results in turn do of course reflect on who Henry was). THat's something you can do in a series of mysteries starring a fictional detective, but if a novel focuses on someone in Henry's reign who by defnition has a lot of interaction with the king - be it a wife or a key government official like Cromwell - , you don't have that luxury. (Although Hilary Mantel also keeps Henry off stage as much as she can.) Now, you can always take the Charles Dickens approach; Dickens, gifted wordsmith that he was, called Henry "blot of blood and grease upon the History of England", and the phrase certainly has merit, but if you do Henry-as-ogre and aren't writing about the later wives, who had little choice in marrying him (women turning Henry VIII. down did so from the safety from abroad, like Christina of Milan who supposedly said she'd marry him, if she had two heads), you have the problem that not only did wives 2 and 3 go to some effort to get married to him, but wife 1, ill treated as she was, wrote from her deathbed "mine eyes desire to see you above all things" and kept blaming anyone but Henry for what had happened (Wolsey/ Anne Boleyn/ Cromwell were misleading him!). Now of course you can write a Katherine of Aragon who wants to keep the position of queenship, not Henry himself, and a Anne Boleyn who never cared for anything but, with Ogre!Henry being the unappetizing means to get/keep said queenship. But it's just not very satisfying dramatically to see strong-willed, intelligent women interact with an evil buffoon all the time.

There have been Henry-friendly fictional presentations, of course, but these usually either take Katherine of Aragon's approach and present him as mislead/corrupted by *insert character of choice* and originally a golden boy, or they heavily edit out actions that are less well known than the rolling heads but no less difficult to stomach. Take his reaction to Katherine of Aragon's death. Which was very similar indeed to his reaction later to Anne Boleyn's death, only with Anne the Anne-hostile fiction usually takes the out of declaring her guilty of everything she was ever accused of. (Margaret George does this in "The Memoirs of Henry VIIII", and the movie - though not the series - "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" does it as well.) Whereas with Katherine of Aragon it's hard to present her as a villain (even Protestant chroniclers in Elizabeth'S time didn't try); there's no way of getting around that this was a woman Henry was married with for decades, who was not only a dutiful and affection queen consort but also ruled England in Henry's absence for a while, managing to beat the Scots while he was losing against the French, so you'd think at the very least he'd be capable of showing some respect once she was gone (and thus no longer an obstacle who refused to acknowledge the annulment). But how did Henry react? According to Imperial Ambassador Chapuys, he did this:

"You could not conceive the joy that the King and those who favour this concubinage have shown at the death of the good queen, especially the earl of Wiltshire and his son, who said it was a pity the Princess [Mary] did not keep company with her. The King, on the Saturday he heart the news, exclaimed “God be praised that we are free from all suspicion of war”; and that the time had come that he would manage the French better than he had done hitherto, because they would do now whatever he wanted from a fear lest he should ally himself again with your Majesty, seeing that the cause which disturbed your friendship was gone. On the following Sunday, the King was clad all over in yellow, from top to toe, except the white feather he had in his bonnet, and the Little Bastard [Elizabeth] was conducted to Mass with trumpets and other great triumphs. After dinner the King entered the room in which the ladies danced, and there did several things like one transported with joy. At last he sent for his Little Bastard, and carrying her in his arms he showed her first to one and then to another. He has done the like on other days since, and has run some courses at Greenwich."

If you'rve read or watched a few fictionalizations of the Henry & wives saga, you may remember this - only with Anne, not Henry, as the yellow-wearer and celebrating party thrower. Here is a fascinating account on how first the emphasis, then the entire blame got shifted from Henry to Anne through the centuries. Even Anne friendly fictionalisations tend to give her the "let's dress up in yellow and party" idea, if for no other reason than that Anne gloating over the death of her rival (which would actually signal the beginning of her end as well) is easier to stomach and explain than Henry in jubilant mood. (As he would be again once it was Anne's turn. Writes Chapuys: "Although everybody rejoices at the execution of the whore there are some who murmur at the mode of procedure against her and the others, and people speak variously of the king; and it will not pacify the world when it is known what has passed and is passing between him and Jane Seymour. Already it sounds ill in the ears of the people, that the king, having received such ignominy, has shown himself more glad than ever since the arrest of the whore; for he has been going about banqueting with ladies, sometimes remaining after midnight, and returning by the river. Most of the time he was accompanied by various musical instruments, and, on the other hand, by the singers of his chamber, hich state of things was by many a one compared to the joy and pleasure a man feels in getting rid of a thin, old, and vicious hack in the hope of getting soon a fine horse to ride—a very peculiarly agreeable task for this king."

(Chapuys also has a great cynical line in his report about the aftermath of Katherine Howard's death, when Henry wasn't in a partying mood but grieving - not for Katherine, for himself, because he was betrayed etc.. He said of course Henry was sad, since this was the first time he lost a wife without having a replacement lined up already.)

It's this unabashed gloating about two dead women that makes fictionalizers who try to make him into someone more than a complete monster balk; it's usually replaced with at least some secret tears for Katherine of Aragon (as in The Tudors), chewing out of Anne for wearing yellow (how dare she? He himself is of course dressed in black!), and some signs of contemplation and gloom before and during Anne's execution("Anne of the Thousand Days") even if he heads towards Jane Seymour in the next scene. (Incidentally, since Thomas Cromwell's execution was followed by Henry marrying Katherine Howard immediately after, it was party time then as well.) Not to mention that fictional more dimensional Henries usually have some regret later on for a least one of the dead wives (other than Jane Seymour, whom documented Henry did express grief for; considering she was the one who delivered the longed for boy, this is not surprising). Now I could be wrong, but as far as I know Henry VIII. never expressed regret about any women he had destroyed; his few documented regrets about his own victims were all reserved for men. Both Wolsey and Cromwell had the dubious honor of having Henry loudly regret their demise a few weeks later, calling them "most faithful servants" and what not. Considering both Wolsey and Cromwell were workhorses and workoholics, and Henry never, post-Cromwell, found an official with the same capacity again, instead dispensing Cromwell's various tasks on different courtiers, more than one historian concluded the regret was entirely practical in nature. (Arguably the sole candidate for "person whom Henry had great affection for, never lost his affection for, and who died in bed decades later" is a man as well, Charles Brandon, Henry's best friend and brother-in-law.)

So, what did anyone see in this guy, other than his crown? Was it all just court flattery from the beginning? Chances are he did have charisma; he was the spare, not the heir while growing up, but managed to impress ambassadors and Londoners alike more than his older brother Arthur did. Of course, once Arthur was dead and he WAS the heir, there was plenty of hope invested in him, and he got a lot of credit from the start for not being his father but a young, handsome prince who people could believe would start a new age. He loved music enough to dabble in it with at least one evergreen as the result (bad pun intended), he loved books and poetry (and the people who produced both), he seems to have had an easy-going manner (again, a contrast to his father), he jousted well and before his weight explosion certainly looked the part of a dazzling athletic king; and when you were in his favour, no matter in which capacity, he comes across as singlemindedly focused. (Not just in the romantic sense. Despite the wish for male heirs, Mary, as a little girl, was made much off by her father and called his pearl; of course, that made the contrast later all the crueler.) But while undoubtedly Henry's temper got worse as he aged (that ulcer in his leg post tournament fall which soon had to be dressed daily didn't help), I can't buy into Henries who start out innocent, so to speak. Henry at age 18 started his reign by locking up his father's two chief taxmen and having them executed for treason in a naked bit of popularity. Which worked. Everyone hated the guys whom Henry VII.'s extortionist tax policies were blamed on. What everyone was prepared to overlook was that it was judical murder, because not only did these men simply do what they had been tasked to do by the king (which, before anyone says "Nuremberg!" , did not include murder), but they definitely didn't commit treason. But he had a false accusation drawn up and had them killed because it suited him, just as years later it would suit him for wives and ministers alike.

It's not surprising that most fictional Henries focus on only some of these aspects. As far as screen representations are concerned, the earliest really memorable one is Charles Laughton in The Private Life of Henry VIII. - this is Henry as party animal, alright, Bluff King Hal, and Laughton is probably the first and last actor playing Henry VIII in a film where Henry has a central role who actually has the weight of at least middle years Henry (late Henry was something else again), which is especially a glaring contrast to the screen Henries of the last two decades who, no matter when in his life the story is set, are studly hunks. However, the film is mostly a comedy (despite opening with the death of Anne Boleyn and focusing on Katherine Howard), with the key scene and later often quoted set piece the Anne of Cleves sequence in which Laughton and his wife, Elsa Lanchester (who playes Anne of Clevers) show their superb comic timing together. It never tries to get the chilling people destroyer part of Henry across. (Charles Laughton reprised Henry VIII. later in "Young Bess" - with Jean Simmons as Elizabeth - and there despite Henry only getting a few minutes of screen time you do get the chilling part; there's a highly effective scene where he strokes Katherine Parr's cheek in just the same way he stroked Katherine Howard's, and young Elizabeth, who remembers the gesture, gets the full implication when she watches.) Other memorable Henries include Keith Mitchell (twice), who played him in the BBC series "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" and in the film of the same name, and while he captures Henry's intelligence and cold ruthlessness (in the series, though not the film, which whitewashes Henry as much as it can), the party animal aspect is gone. Richard Burton in Anne of the Thousand Days had a script that allowed for a lot of aspects (relaxing with courtiers, spoiled monarch incredulous at being told no, obsessed lover, killer), and Burton had enough of his own charisma to make one of the central conceits of the play believable (that Anne, despite all good intentions ot the contrary - originally, she's after the power - and despite being warned by her sister that Henry only loves what he can't have, eventually does fall in love with Henry, which is of course the very moment he starts to fall out of love with her). But you can't see his Henry arguing theology or seriously believing himself the instrument of god, whereas Mitchell's Henry would. As far as the latest screen Henries are concerned, as mentioned they share the trait of being studly (I'm sure Henry VIII would have loved this type of presentation! Otoh, he would be incredibly offended that at least two laterday screen Henries also are rapists - of the many, many things you can blame Henry VIII. for, this really isn't one, and given the almost seven years it took him to have sex with Anne Boleyn, one can argue it's severely ooc). They also tend to be brooders (at least Henry's tendency for self pity is captured), but other than the sex scenes, the party animal aspect which Laughton started the memorable screen Henries with is almost gone. And they definitely are easily led by *insert character*. (One thing about Jonathan Rhys Meyer, though he's the most notorious about the studly, mysteriously thin remaining - until the last possible moment - Henries: The Tudors ultimately held Henry himself responsible for the gruesomeness. And despite JRM always looking wrong, there were at least two scenes where I could believe he was playing Henry VIII.; one at the end of season 2, when he ate the swans he'd been observing through the episode, partying just after Anne's execution, and one in season 4, when he saw Charles Brandon the last time, knew they were both very ill, but declared he'd use the healing power of the king's touch to cure CB, which is just such a Henry VIIII. thing to do.) The newest Henry, Damian Lewis in Wolf Hall, goes from easy going and, as the tv critics called it, hen-pecked to absolutely chilling in the last episode with only a few scenes, but the story he's in blames Anne for such a lot before the last episode that it still feels as if Henry's left off the hook.

In conclusion: I'm still waiting for the ultimate, definitive fictional Henry.

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current mood: geeky

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Thursday, March 19th, 2015
9:40 am - The Americans 3.08
In which some revelations are at hand.

Read more... )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1066318.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: pensive

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Wednesday, March 18th, 2015
8:49 am - Briefly, for lack of time...
...two catching up reviews in one entry:

Once upon a Time: Spoilers. )

Call the Midwife: Spoilers. )

This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1066141.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: contemplative

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Tuesday, March 17th, 2015
3:43 pm - Bates Motel 3.02
Meanwhile, in White Pine Bay...

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This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1065822.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: thoughtful

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10:00 am - Better Call Saul 1.07
After last week's backstory-tastic outing, the plot continues in this one, and I struggle mightily not to care too much for a dooooooomed couple because damm, their scenes together are so great, and there's no way....

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This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1065618.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: sad

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Monday, March 16th, 2015
11:44 am - Black Sails 2.08.
In which the show continues to be fabulous, but makes me very worried indeed for one particular character.

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This entry was originally posted at http://selenak.dreamwidth.org/1065442.html. Comment there or here, as you wish.

current mood: anxious

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9:21 am - Elementary 3.17
Back from Leipzig, en route to Munich, very exhausted. Elementary with its subplot about spoilery things )The Holmes & Watson friendship shone again. They really are among my favourite incarnations of the pair ever.

Case of the week: so bizarre that it's probably from the headlines. The actor who played the movie-obsessed leukemia guy seemed vaguely familiar - where could I have encountered him before?

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current mood: exhausted

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Friday, March 13th, 2015
8:29 pm - King Thranduil Conquers Leipzig
This is why German book fairs are the best. I mean, clearly. Where else can you see Thranduil in his comfy slippers on the lookout for the latest bestsellers in Sindarin and Quenya?

 photo image.jpg3_zpslcms5vlz.jpg

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current mood: silly

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