Category Archives: Thomas More

Movies that inspire me– “A Man for All Seasons”

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I love movies. I do not, of course, love all movies equally.

There are movies that make me go “ugh”. There are movies about which I say “meh”. There are movies I enjoy that I see just once. There is a small cohort of movies that I see again and again because I find something special about them.

And then there is a handful of movies that inspire me as a writer to create whole new worlds on the page.

I cannot logically quantify the difference between the films I love and the films that fire my imagination. Some of the films in the latter category aren’t famous or even particularly good– for example, “Wizards” and “Circle of Iron” (I am willing to bet half of you have never even heard of these films). But something about these movies make me want to go write and write powerfully.

One of these inspirational films is the 1966 movie “A Man for All Seasons”–

(Ah, trailers from the 1960’s. So…verbal).

There is something about the depth, the quality, the sheer intellectual integrity of this film that rivets my attention, and has done so since I first saw it in the early 1970’s. The opening title sequence alone pulls me into a whole other world. This movie and the TV mini-series “Elizabeth R” from 1971 were both direct inspirations for my early series of alternate history novels (now, regrettably, trunked, most likely forever). Re-watching the film recently, I found it still, even after all these years, had the power to launch me directly into a new concept for a fantasy story-line (perhaps more on that in a future post, when its had a chance to gel).

One factor, undoubtedly, is the cast– Paul Scofield, Wendy Hiller, Leo McKern, Robert Shaw, Orson Welles, Susannah York (one of those actresses, such as Audrey Hepburn and Elisabeth Sladen, who simply cause my brain to stop working), Nigel Davenport, and a young John Hurt in his first major role. The next time I saw him was in “Alien”, and I’ve been following him ever since. Where do you get an ensemble like that? (oh, yeah, Great Britain. Duh)

This movie, adapted by Robert Bolt from his stage play of the same name, has great acting, great cinematography, great music, but most of all, it’s about something– freedom of conscience in the face of absolute power. How many Hollywood productions nowadays can even pretend to have a deeper meaning than selling tickets? And yet this movie does it without seeming false or heavy-handed.

Certainly that’s part of the reason I find this film inspirational. The fact that it’s about a period of history that has long fascinated me is another factor. In the end, though, I am unable to provide a completely rational reason why I find this movie so fascinating and inspiring– somehow the sum of the whole is greater than its parts. Maybe that’s just the mark of a great movie.

Sirrah, if thou hast not seen this film, hie thee down to the corner video store and renteth it tonight. Verily, thy mind and heart will be expandethed. Or something like that.

In future posts I will talk about other films that inspire me, and, perhaps, I can tease out what it is that about these films that set my brain on fire. If only I could then bottle it….