Period dramas have always held a great fascination for me. Through my growing up years, I remember enjoying the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Vikram and Betal, Chandrakanta, Sword of Tipu Sultan – however, all that was a long time ago. None of the new ones on TV have caught my fancy in the recent years, except of course for the English movies based on period dramas, that I have watched awe-struck!
So when Vish suggested watching The Tudors (on Netflix) – a historical fiction television series spanning the rule of King Henry VIII of England – I was all for it. We finished the entire series – spread across four seasons in a little less than 3 weeks. It was very engrossing, almost addictive. (An aside: King Henry VIII is played by the same guy who was the football coach in Bend it Like Beckham :))
I felt that the series was shot wonderfully – the English landscape complete with the castles and the old European architecture – the costumes, the opulence, the diction of the characters, the old world courtesy, charm and language, the politics of the empire – all tiny details had been intricately woven to give a picture of an honest and truthful depiction. I did some reading of the period too, on the side. And realized, as in any work of fiction, though much has been drawn from documented history, there are deviations – perhaps to make plots and characters less confusing and retell a story that spanned so many years in just a few episodes.
If you get the time, you must watch the series (a small word of caution though – the episodes get quite graphic when it comes to scenes of beheading, burning, torture and other forms of harassment) and also read about this fascinating lineage of the Tudors. It is very interesting to observe how the King – the sovereign leader – is just another insecure man – who needs to many a times, unnecessarily, assert his powers in order to prove his potency, and at the same time needs constant affirmation from others around him that he is indeed a just and fair king.
King Henry VIII is apparently the most exciting of all the English kings – his never ending squabbles with the Roman Emperor, his love-hate relationship with France, his confused loyalties with Catholicism, his support for the Reformation, his insatiable appetite for women and wives, his paranoia of not being able to have a son and then not being able to protect him adequately, his orders of execution in fury and then heart wrenching regrets later, his megalomaniac belief that he is invincible and can command death out of the way, his deep rooted fear of not being able to live upto that larger than life size he expected of himself, and his final resignation to the acceptance of the reality of death.
For those interested in further historic reference of King Henry VIII, he is the father of the Queen Mary, also known as Bloody Mary for all the heretics she executed during her reign, and of the very notable Queen Elizabeth I, whose rule on England is often referred to as the golden age. Since she was a sworn virgin, with her ended the Tudor Dynasty.
[Image source: Google Images]