The story of Thomas More, who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage.
One of the greatest film directors of all time is Fred Zinnemann, and the shocking thing is, most people wouldn't know who that is, let alone even heard the name. He has a whopping 65 Oscar nominations under his belt with a great 24 wins. His films have stood the test of time and continue to be debated and discussed to this day. Perhaps Zinnemann is most known for 'High Noon', 'Oklahoma', 'The Nun's Story', and 1977's 'Julia'. All of those movies are excellent and have each earned their own numerous awards in filmmaking.
But there is another film from 1966, which was one of Zinnemann's last films that not only took home Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor, but it is the best film ever made according to The Vatican. Needless to say, that's a pretty high honor, considering the film isn't 100% about religion. The film centers around the time where King Henry VIII was wanting to marry Anne Boleyn, and right before the King became the chaotic leader he is known for. But this story does not follow around King Henry (Robert 'Jaws' Shaw), but rather 'A Man for All Season' focuses on Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield), a family man who was the right hand man to King Henry VIII, at least for a little while.
Based on the 1960 stage play by Robert Bolt with Bolt writing the screenplay, 'A Man for All Seasons' can be seen as an accurate portrayal of the downfall of one of the most infamous kings in England, not to mention the intense and brilliant dialogue that occurs. As the film starts out, King Henry is already wanting to marry Boleyn and leave Lady Aragon, because she cannot bear children, specifically a son to take the reigns someday, which is something King Henry is obsessed about. He has his lord chancellor Wolsey (Orson Welles) ask Sir Thomas More, Henry's right hand man to attend a secret meeting to convince the Pope to allow Henry to divorce his wife and marry another.
If you're Catholic, you have been told this a big "no-no" in the religion. Already knowing that the Pope will not agree to this, Sir Thomas More, declines to help. You see, back then, almost everything had to be approved before the Pope and the church, and if it wasn't "kosher", it would be considered illegal. When More declines, King Henry tries to bribe More with power and riches. When that doesn't work, King Henry takes a more violent approach. All the while, Sir Thomas More sticks to his religious convictions and does what's right by his family and God. He never bows down or takes the low road. Instead, he takes the righteous path, always standing up to what he believes in, no matter what the obstacle is to overcome.
Well, we all know what happened, King Henry overthrew the Pope basically, making it law that the church had no say on people's lives. He went on to marry five more women, some of whom he had killed. But what works so well with 'A Man for All Seasons' is the attention to detail of the time period, and the incredible performances by each actor. These actors just throw themselves into these roles and make you believe every single action and emotion, especially Paul Scofield, who is one of the best Shakespearean actors to have ever lived. He fully immersed himself into these roles and there are stories of how intense he was on set in character. It definitely shows here as he won Best Actor at the Oscars for his role here. 'A Man for All Seasons' is smart, beautiful, and well-acted, and remains one of the best adaptations of King Henry VIII's life out there today.
'A Man for All Seasons' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 1.66:1 aspect ratio. This movie is 50 years old, and with this new transfer, it looks amazing. Twilight Time has done a great job restoring this image. The detail is very sharp and vivid throughout. The fine textures in the costumes as well as the movie props and sets all look crisp and well-defined. In well-lit closeups, individual hairs and facial imperfections can be seen nicely, although the image can be a bit soft at times during the lower lit scenes.
Wider shots also look very sharp, giving the image a lot of depth and immersing you in this world. There is a nice layer of grain as well that never really fluctuates, although there are a few moments where it looks heavier than others. Colors look a little muted and dark at times. No color tends to really pop off screen or have a bold aspect to it. Black levels are deep and inky for the most part, and skin tones looks a tad bit darker than normal. There is some noticeable ringing and video noise, but other than that, this video presentation is top notch for being 50 years old.
This release comes with a great DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and sounds fantastic. The sound effects and ambient noises sound great from the rear speakers, giving a bit of immersion to the movie. Georges Delerue's score is sweeping and sounds great here too, never drowning out any sound effect or piece of dialogue.
Speaking of the dialogue, it's always crystal clear and easy to follow without any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is rather wide. Don't expect a loud action packed sound at any one moment, as this film is very front speaker heavy. That being said, this audio presentation sounds great.
Audio Commentary - This commentary track is with writer/film fan Lem Dobbs, Nick Redman, and Julie Kirgo. These film historians and writers discuss the production of 'A Man for All Seasons' and the life and career of Fred Zinneman. This is a very informative commentary track if you're a fan of the film.
The Life of St. Thomas More (SD, 19 Mins.) - Here are interviews with various people discussing the life and cultural impact of Thomas More.
Isolated Score Track - You can watch the film with the score only in DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo sound.
Trailer (HD, 4 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
Twilight Time has knocked 'A Man For All Seasons' out of the park with this glorious video and audio transfer. This is the best the film has looked since it came out all those years ago. The performances and set pieces still hold up today The extras are worth watching as well, making this excellent Twilight Time release HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!