Last week’s Wednesday brought us the new BBC 2 drama, Wolf Hall for it’s second episode of the six part series. We were excited to see what this episode would bring, but I have to be honest and say that I was slightly disappointed. While plenty of events took place in this episode, I was put off by a few of the characters.
Mark Rylance, who plays Thomas Cromwell, was exceptional. The portrayal of his character is complex and diverse. The writers have given him more depth than what history would know Cromwell as. However, I found that the portrayal of Anne Boleyn was over played and to be honest, cliche. Claire Foy, the actress who portrays the second wife of Henry, plays the part of Anne well. However, it is the fault of the writers and director that she has been made into a conniving, spoilt brat. Anne Boleyn has been depicted as such in films and tv renditions throughout the industry.
I would have found it far more interesting if the writers had given her a more complex personality. The film Anne of a Thousand Days, is one of the only films I’ve seen to suggest a different tone to the story we have all heard countless times. Instead, the writers of Wolf Hall have made her into a dull character, only concerned with manipulating the king into breaking away from Rome and gaining the crown in the process.
Damian Lewis is incredibly talented as an actor, so again I can only blame the writers for the portrayal of Henry VIII. In this episode, he is depicted as weak and vulnerable. While I admire the way that they have attempted to give his character a sense of duality, I’m almost embarrassed for the character by his actions. He is not depicted as the strong willed and determined King that we all know him to have been. He is being manipulated by Anne, and to an extent, Cromwell in one scene. According to the books, his temper was one of his signifying traits but we have yet to have seen an indication of such.
However, the episode was still interesting to watch. (SPOILER ALERT) We see the death of Wolsey and Cromwell’s first steps into becoming chief minister to Henry VIII. The show still keeps true to history, which is a big factor in my enjoyment of the show. Hopefully, next episode we will get a better glimpse of Anne and Henry.