His Silence Was More Powerful Than Words
A Man for All Seasons is one of the few historical films that successfully portrays the past as a recognisable precursor to our own era by concentrating not on battles and pageantry, but on statecraft, corruption, legal wrangling, petty bureaucracy, and the eternal clash between private conscience and public duty. The film had a perfect director in Fred Zinnemann, the Swiss-born maestro who gained his second Best Director Oscar here.
A Man for All Seasons is, of course, the story of the downfall of Sir Thomas More, the scholar, lawyer, judge, and eventual High Chancellor of England after Cardinal Wolsey, who was persecuted and eventually executed for treason for refusing to support Henry VIII’s ruthless reformation and remarriage to Anne Boleyn.
Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons chronicles this event and captures all the moral and practical dueling that took place in the wake of one monarch’s desire to move onto a new wife. It won six Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor.
If anyone needs a refresher course on how to detect the finer distinctions between right and wrong then a viewing A Man for All Seasons would be a good starting point.