DVD of the Week: Anne of the Thousand Days

Genevieve Bujold (1969)
Genevieve Bujold as Anne Boleyn, 1969

I have a confession to make. I love British historical dramas. In fact, I’m a bit obsessed with British history in general, and one of my favorite historical dramas is Anne of the Thousand Days (1969, dir. Charles Jarrott) which is finding its way onto NTSC Region-1 DVD for the first time today.

The film features a terrific cast of talented actors, including the great Richard Burton who gives one of his most controlled and intense performances here as King Henry VIII, but the real reason to watch this rather dark and extremely lush drama is to see one of my favorite actresses, the lovely and talented Genevieve Bujold, in one of her finest roles as the proud and defiant Anne Boleyn. Her incredible performance won her a Golden Globe in 1969 and even garnered her an Oscar nomination. She really is luminous here as the young doomed Queen who gives birth to a daughter – Elizabeth I – and soon finds herself accused of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft when she can’t give the King a male heir.

Like most historical dramas, the historical accuracy of Anne of the Thousand Days is questionable, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying this terrific film and Genevieve Bujold’s fantastic performance. Much like the great Fred Zinnemann film A Man for All Seasons (1966), Anne of the Thousand Days offers an interesting look at the passions, politics, and religious upheaval that lead to the English Reformation. The film also boasts some nice photography from cinematographer Arthur Ibbetson and a very good period score from the talented French composer Georges Delrue.

The new Anne of the Thousand Days DVD from Universal also comes with director Charles Jarrott’s critically acclaimed follow-up film Mary, Queen of Scots starring Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson. I haven’t seen Mary, Queen of Scots myself yet but if it’s anywhere near as good as Anne of the Thousand Days I suspect that I’ll really enjoy it as well. I’m looking forward to giving it a look soon now that it’s easily available on DVD.

The Anne of the Thousand Days / Mary, Queen of Scots DVD is available from Amazon and it presents both of the films in Anamorphic Widescreen. Extras include a Theatrical Trailer for Anne of the Thousand Days, an Isolated Music Only Track with Commentary from Film Historians Nick Redman and Jon Burlingame for Mary, Queen of Scots, a Promotional Featurette and a Sneak Peek of Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). I’m disappointed with the extras since I would love to have had a commentary with Genevieve Bujold included with the Anne of the Thousand Days disc, but at only $14.99 for two films I guess I can’t complain about the DVD too much.

The films were obviously finally released on DVD in anticipation of Shekhar Kapur’s upcoming follow-up film to Elizabeth (1998). I actually really enjoyed Elizabeth so I’m looking forward to Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I think it will be interesting to watch the terrific Anne of the Thousand Days again, along with Mary, Queen of Scots before seeing Kapur’s new film.

Recommended Link:
– A nice Genevieve Bujold fan site

7 thoughts on “DVD of the Week: Anne of the Thousand Days

  1. I remember watching “Siskel and Ebert” years ago when they were talking about Trouble in Mind. They showed the scene of Genevieve Bujold slapping Kris Kristofferson in the face and swinging his head around. Then they showed Burton slapping Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days and she keeps her head perfectly still, eyes set on Burton. It was a great contrast to show her strength in whatever role she plays. I have always liked historical drama and love this one. Glad to see it’s on DVD!

    The first movie I ever saw Genevieve Bujold in was Coma and loved her in it. My favorite Bujold performances would be Anne of the Thousand Days, Choose Me, Tightrope, House of Yes and Dead Ringers. What a great actress and what an accent!

    Just a sidenote, she was originally cast as Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager but had to back out due to some contract dispute I can’t remember now. She would have been fantastic.

  2. I like Genevieve Bujold a lot as well. I haven’t seen this film in years but I remember loving her and Burton together. I also remember liking the score a lot.
    I am also looking forward to Elizabeth: The Golden Age as well, I love Cate and it should be another great performance from her…thanks for the alert on this dvd.

  3. Hey Kimberly. Great blog post. I saw this film years ago. I love British historical dramas. I’m really drawn to the history, culture, etc. of the Brits. This is one of the best. I loved this film. Genevieve Bujold was fantastic here. She made this film. Richard Burton was also good in it. This was one of my favorite time periods in English history. Never saw the other film it’s packaged with on DVD, but I would like to see it. I’ll have to get this DVD. I loved the first Elizabeth film with Cate Blanchett. I’m looking forward to seeing the new one. It looks amazing. Plus being from North Carolina, Sir Walter Raleigh has always been a major historical figure here. It’s neat seeing Clive Owen play him.

  4. Jonathan – You brought back a lot of memories when you mentioned that episode of Siskel & Ebert! I can remember watching that episode as well and if my memory is serving me right, both critics are very fond of Genevieve Bujold.

    Trouble in Mind is actually one of my favorite Bujold films. I like a lot of Alan Rudolph’s movies, including Choose Me which you also mentioned and The Moderns which all feature great performances from Bujold. Rudolph is an unusual director, but that’s probably why his films appeals to me so much. The only Bujold movie you mentioned that I haven’t seen yet is House of Yes, but I really love Coma and Dead Ringers.

    I first saw her in Earthquake when I was just a little kid. Not her best film, but it was a fun night at the drive-in!

    I also really like her in Obsession, King of Hearts, Murder by Decree and Tightrope. I’ve always wanted to see the few French comedies she made with Jean-Paul Belmondo, but I’m afraid I haven’t had the chance yet.

    Jeremy – Thanks! It’s a really good film and has a dark edge that’s missing from a lot of period dramas, which I appreciate a lot.

    Keith – It’s nice to come across other British history buffs! 🙂 The Tudor period is really fascinating.

    My mother’s family was British (from Wales) and my great-great-great grandmother even worked for the Royal family as a seamstress, so I’m sure my fascination with British history is somewhat due to my family’s influence. My mom and dad were both 1st generation Americans (British/Irish/Italians) so I suppose I grew up with a lot of International flavor in my household.

  5. You brought back a lot of memories when you mentioned that episode of Siskel & Ebert! I can remember watching that episode as well

    How cool you remember that episode! My memory for anything movie-related that I encounter in life is like a steel trap so when I bring up something like that most people probably just think I’m making it up – but now I have a witness! It’s easier to remember such things as well when you’re a fan of whom they’re speaking.

    I wasn’t crazy about The House of Yes but I thought Genevieve was excellent.

  6. I still need to see this. I’m actually a distant relative of Bujold. I think she’s one of my mother’s cousins or second cousins (her mother had about a dozen siblings, it’s hard to tell with these things). I also love Burton, even though he’s usually an A-class scenery chewer.

  7. Jonathan – I wonder if that episode of Siskel & Ebert is available to view online? I remember enjoying that one a lot which is why I remember it so well. I need to spend some time checking out the online archives for the show soon.

    Justine – That’s fabulous! You should try and contact her some way. It might be interesting to chat with her about film or at least let her know you’re aware of her work and are interested in cinema yourself. I think she’s a fantastic actress!

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