Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Another "Masterpiece" on the Way!!

image from the BBC
I am SOOO excited for the upcoming broadcast of "Wolf Hall" on Masterpiece!!! What's Wolf Hall you might ask? It is the six-part miniseries adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Man Booker prize-winning novel of the same name and its Man Booker prize-winning sequel, Bring Up the Bodies (the final novel in the series, The Mirror and the Light, is eagerly awaited), starring Damian Lewis ("Homeland", "The Forsyte Saga") and Mark Rylance (The Other Boleyn Girl). Wolf Hall tells the story of Thomas Cromwell, the lawyer who helped King Henry VIII annul his marriage to Queen Katherine of Aragon so that he could marry Anne Boleyn, while separating England from the Roman Catholic Church.

[It's also a two-part play on Broadway by the Royal Shakespeare Company, starring Nathaniel Parker ("Inspector Lynley") and Ben Miles ("Larkrise to Candleford", "Coupling"). I am going to see Part 1 in two weeks!!! SOOOO EXCITED!!!!]

image from The Guardian
The miniseries has already aired in England and garnered lots of praise. It is going to be a "Name That Brit" affair: Claire Foy ("Little Dorrit") as Anne Boleyn, Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean) as Cardinal Wolsey, Bernard Hill (Lord of the Rings) as the Duke of Norfolk, Anton Lesser (Game of Thrones) as Sir Thomas More, Mark Gatiss ("Sherlock") as Cromwell’s rival Stephen Gardiner, Joanne Whalley ("The Virgin Queen") as Queen Katherine, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster ("Game of Thrones") as Cromwell's assistant Rafe Sadler. Plus Ed Speelers ("Downton Abbey"), Harry Lloyd ("Game of Thrones"), Charity Wakefield ("Sense and Sensibility"), Jessica Raine ("Call the Midwife"), David Robb ("Downton Abbey") and Saskia Reeves ("Wallender"), just for starters.

I have just started reading the novel that all this is based on, and while I have found the writing style to be confusing and the rhythm of the writing difficult (this apparently is a common complaint), it is really interesting reading a book where Thomas Cromwell is not portrayed as an absolute villain. Because usually he is, seeing as *NEARLY 500 YEAR OLD HISTORICAL SPOILER ALERT* he is the one "held responsible" for the executions of both Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn. (I haven't gotten very far in the novel yet, so I cannot comment on the overall historical accuracy in this piece of historical fiction.) PS. *NEARLY 500 YEAR OLD HISTORICAL SPOILER ALERT*, he isn't going to make a good end of things either. (Was poor Anne of Cleves really THAT BAD?) But it is still a good story....

"Wolf Hall" will be on Masterpiece on PBS, starting Sundays, April 5 (that's Easter Sunday) through May 10, 2015 at 10pm.  (I haven't decided if I am staying awake to live Tweet it or going to DVR to watch on Mondays. Who am I kidding? I am going stay up late to watch it.)

ETA: You can read more about Wolf Hall in today's New York Times on-line. (Coincidentally, they published their article the same day I am publishing this post. Great minds...)

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