Saturday, February 07, 2015

Wolf Hall part 1 (BBC2)

This is still available to watch until 22.05 on 20th February 2015.

I've just watched the first part of Wolf Hall again, for I think the third time!  In many ways it's true to the book, which I'm currently re-reading, but in others it wanders from the timeline.  For me the most obvious one is when Liz Cromwell dies of the sweating sickness.  In the book their daughters Ann and Grace live on for at least another two years before succumbing in 1529 to the same sickness that killed their mother (I have to say that I'm not sure the dates are correct at all - see this account, or they may have died of different complaints).  But the change from the book gives us one of the most touching scenes of Thomas Cromwell, bereft after the deaths of his wife and two young daughters across a single day and night, standing alone in a colonnade outside his home.

It seems to me that after this blow Thomas becomes much more capable of taking risks, has less care for his own safety.  An epiphany of sorts maybe. The image above shows him immediately after his great loss, looking out across the courtyard at Austin Friars into a future that is in some ways meaningless.  But he still has his master, Cardinal Wolsey to serve, and so life continues.  Though the time of quarantine is not shown in the film - and there would have been time for all to stay in the house to not spread infection.

For some reason this reminds me of the painting The Annunciation by Botticelli, which we saw when we visited Compton Verney back in 2013. There just happened to be an exhibition of Italian art on when we arrived. Two different collonades, one in damp England following a death, one in bright Italy foreshadowing a birth.

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