tealin: (Default)
Tonight, I am at a crossroads.

I can either go out and get groceries (which means dinner, lest I go all night on the digestive biscuits with cheese I had at 4), or I can 'watch' Wolf Hall for the second time in a week while tying down animation until 1 a.m.

I think we all know how this story goes.


ETA: PLOT TWIST

I'm actually hungry and my shoulders are stiff and I am foolishly optimistic that the newly-returned students have cleared out of Sainsbury's by this time of night. (It's probably the low blood sugar.)
tealin: (Default)
Welcome back to our regular erratic examination of 16th century English history via 21st century dramatic television. If you missed the previous installments, these handy hyperlinks will take you to Episode 1 (which you really ought to read first as it lays out my thesis), and Episode 2 (which is skippable if you're pressed for time, as I, apparently, wasn't).

The past two episodes, I've made a point about the title, but "Anna Regina", I think, is fairly straightforward. It's the episode in which Anne becomes Queen, and more importantly Anne is The Boss, well before she is crowned. It may be interesting to note, though, that the title is in Latin, the language of the Catholic Church, while Anne is the motivation for severing England from said institution: one of this episode's leading subplots is the clash between Rome and the Reformation. Notice also that the title – Queen Anne – shares the screen with Katherine of Aragon, who is, at that point in time, still technically the Queen. With this juxtaposition we see the beginning and end of this arc all in one go.

The concrete subplot may be Rome vs the Reformation, but the abstract theme explored in this episode is Pragmatism vs Idealism. Episode 4 will play with it as well, but it is heavily established in, and central to, "Anna Regina." The foils, Cromwell and More, exemplify either side. In their playing off each other and reacting to the events around them, the deeper issues come forth, and the audience is challenged: What would you do in this situation? What do you believe in? To what extent would you stick to your ideals? What would you say to get ahead? Whose side are you on, and whose side would you want to be on?

Much of this conflict is played out in the religious divide, and tensions that arise because of religion, but there is still plenty to chew on if affairs of church and state don't interest you. Democracy is a belief system, not a million miles from a religion, and we see crimes perpetrated against it in this episode. The same goes for the values of romantic love, tolerance, and justice, all of which get skewered by pragmatism. We all have immaterial, non-empirical ideas we hold sacrosanct, so being challenged to examine the power of belief applies to us all.

It's a very relevant episode to our modern world as well, as we struggle with the lack of big ideas in politics, the clash of Islamic fundamentalism and what we consider 'Western values,' and the polarisation and entrenchment of opinion. When is compromise effective and when is it weakness? How much crossover should there be between government and finance? How much influence should moneyed individuals have in the system?

The screenwriting guru who taught at Disney harped on the idea that drama uses history to comment on the present, and that great films hit the rotten nerve of the time in which they are made. This episode is an hour of solid neuralgia, in that respect.

Words and Pictures )

From here on to the end of the series, Cromwell's shadow side will come ever more to the fore, and the façade of unimpeachable goodness fall away. At what point will you realise it's an illusion?
tealin: (Default)


Nothing like co-opting a former colleague's fanart for your own amusement ... sincerest apologies to Cory Loftis but it was too good to resist. (He is amazing, you guys, check him out; I do miss seeing his artwork in the halls every day.)

Jean Kang has also done some super cool and spooky Wolf Hall fanart without even having to steal it from anyone!
tealin: (catharsis)
Greetings, Internet, and welcome to another episode of Metapiece Theatre. Our offering today is, a little bit late, Episode Two of Wolf Hall, entitled "Entirely Beloved."

As with "Three Card Trick," whose writeup you should definitely read before this one, the title of this episode is not a coincidence. The entire hour is a game of beloveds, as we set up the relationships whose ramifications will play out in the rest of the series.

Cromwell is beloved of Wolsey
Wolsey . . . Cromwell
Cromwell . . . Johane
(and then vice versa)
Gregory . . . Cromwell
Cromwell . . . Mary Boleyn
Jane . . . Cromwell

Primarily, though, the overarching Beloved of this episode is Cromwell, of the audience. We come to love him for how much he loves others, as well as some cheaper tricks thrown in for good measure.


Of course, to show the Beloveds in greater contrast, we must have the Unbeloveds:

Cromwell vs Henry
Henry vs Wolsey
Cromwell vs Anne
Cromwell vs More
Cromwell vs The Gentry
Cromwell vs Gardiner

Most of these relationships are set up for an evolution, either of sentiment or of power, over the course of this episode or several. And, as mentioned last week, to some extent the value judgment of a character is directly proportional to how beloved they are of Cromwell – those who aren't on his side (e.g. Norfolk) are made out to be baddies, and those who are, are painted in varying shades of gold.

Such energy is put into garnering our sympathy that an alternate title for the episode might be "Laying it On With a Trowel." It's done subtly and organically, but when you start noticing the agenda, each of these moments begins to stand out. Continuing the legal analogy from last week, you can almost year Cromwell telling his take on things with a 'Yeronner...' Doth he protest too much, mayhap?

Let us go then, you and I, where the spoilers spread out against the sky, and pick apart 'Entirely Beloved' )
tealin: (Default)
The PBS airdate for the first episode of Wolf Hall is coming up. This series made me ecstatically happy when it was airing on the BBC and I am very much looking forward to finding out what the reaction will be from across the pond. What made me so excited aside from the brilliant acting and gorgeous production and general intelligence of the whole thing, was the subtle game it played with the audience – a game which, I fear, may have been too subtle, as I feel like the only one I know to have picked up on it. Usually I'm the one missing something completely obvious in a movie, so I was a little worried I was hallucinating, but in rewatching, and reading what other people have to say, I'm pretty sure I'm on to something. For that purpose, dear North Americans, I shall write out my take on the show, in the hope that when you see it you can check it against my theories and perhaps enjoy it as much as I did. At the very least I aspire to spark some interesting meta.

I should clarify now, when I refer to Wolf Hall, I mean the 2015 BBC miniseries directed by Peter Kosminsky, screenplay adapted by Peter Straughan. I have not read Hilary Mantel's novels, but I have read the RSC stage adaptations by Mike Poulton, which differ from the TV series quite a lot. As such, I don't know who to credit for the storytelling to which I refer, and whether these ideas and the way in which they are presented are faithful to Mantel's vision or an invention of Straughan and Kosminsky's. I shall refer to the creators therefore as 'they', a nebulous hand-wave in the direction of the font from which this all came, and someone who knows more than me about its creation can inform me as to where credit and blame should fall.

First, a little on the Nature of Subjectivity )

This is a big claim to make, on behalf of creatives who have said nothing to this effect.* It is possible they didn't intend it, but I hope to lay out enough evidence to prove that even if it were accidental, it still works. If you haven't seen the show yet and want to watch it for the first time without any influence, stop here – if you wish to play the game from the outset, or have seen it already and are wondering what I'm on about, then read on ...
*Of course, if they had, it would ruin the game.

Catching Out Cromwell: Episode 1 (with pictures!) )

This is what engagement with your entertainment looks like. Have fun! Accept no substitutes!

Syndicate

RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags