What I’m Watching: Wolf Hall and more

Every now and then I like to have a quick round up of what I’ve been watching and chat about what I think is worth giving a try if you want to check out something new, are glued to the couch feeding a new baby, or are lolling around in bed on a hungover Sunday. This time it’s the turn of Wolf Hall, Hitler: The Rise of Evil, and The Crown all on Netflix.

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall was on telly absolutely ages ago and as I missed it first time round I was chuffed when my friend got hold of a cheap copy on DVD for me. I make no secret of the fact that I love historical dramas and when they’re done right they’re absolutely my favourite kind of film. I gave Wolf Hall another watch on Netflix because it’s only 6 episodes and well worth a second outing.

Why these Lords look like they about to drop the hottest lute and hurdy gurdy mixtape of 1533?

Charting the story of Thomas Cromwell and his professional relationship with King Henry VIII as he courts Anne Boleyn in his quest for the all-important male heir that the country needs, there’s plenty of well-known actors’ performances to enjoy.

The mini series, first aired on the BBC, stars Mark Rylance (who voices Flop in CBeebies’ Bing) as Cromwell, Damian Lewis as the King, and Claire Foy as his second wife (and yes I spent every episode reciting that rhyme in my head trying to recall what happened to all the unfortunate women in his life).

Perfect costuming, great script, and excellent cinematography: it ticks all the boxes for me.

Hitler: The Rise of Evil

This is a weird one. I’m not sure why I picked this; I think I was in the market for another factual drama and the fact that the eponymous role is played by Robert Carlyle sold it for me. In fact there’s quite a few faces in it; Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Stockard Channing (Rizzo from Grease!) and Matthew Modine amongst others who you recognise but can’t put a name to a face.

Still… it’s all a bit ‘made for TV’. Maybe it hasn’t dated well from 2003 – I mean the costumes are great, and the hair and make up. The locations are good… the sets don’t look quite as realistic on the definition of current TVs…. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m often slightly put off by dramas which have a mish mash of accents (if you ever watched Borgia aka Borgia: Faith and Fear you’ll know what I mean), and there’s all sorts in here: English, American, slightly German (are they really German or were they just getting into character? Who knows!? Perhaps it’s like when someone in ‘Allo ‘Allo does an accent, like Officer Crabtree!) and anyway, that takes the shine off a bit for me.

Nevertheless it’s an interesting glimpse into what I hope was facts gleaned from historical accounts of the nazi era. Whether Hitler himself was such an odious character in real life, I’m not so sure. I mean I think we’re pretty much all agreed he was an evil prick, but at the time he had the charisma to convince enough people to support him and I’m not sure Robert Carlyle’s character conveys that.

Ve Heff Vays of Making You Votch

I’d be interested to know how much truth there was in the sympathies and inclinations of various characters but I don’t think there’s enough hours in the day for me to research it all sufficiently, so instead I’ll take it all with a pinch of salt.

Fortunately, it was only a two parter, so I didn’t have to invest in it too much, and saw it through to the end, never to watch again.

The Crown

I was excited to watch this when it first came out as another great Netflix Original a while ago. It took me a little while to warm to Claire Foy as Elizabeth even though I loved her in the 2008 BBC adaption of Little Dorrit (although I am a massive Andrew Davies fangirl and will watch anything he touches). Her clipped RP accent was very good; but I rather thought made her sound even less down to earth than footage of the young princess (and later queen) in real life.

There were a few moments that I did wonder were a spot creative license: my mum was aghast at the idea of Prince Phillip smuttily suggesting the Queen ‘kneel before him’ (I’m not sure how royalty are supposed to ask for a blowy but my apparently this is not it).

Claire Foy in The Crown

Surprisingly, fellatio hints notwithstanding, Prince Philip (played by Doctor Who aka Matt Smith) came across sympathetically at times, and I also found myself warming to the character of Princess Margaret. She seemed human, passionate, a bit rock n roll, and a victim circumstance. Again, my mum disagreed. Although not anti monarchy in any way (as far as I know) she described Margaret as a “parasite”. Whereas I’d grown up with a middle aged Princess Margaret cutting the occasional ribbon, my mum had grown up with her living the wild child lifestyle which probably pissed off a lot of working class people. That said, I’m still a sucker for star-crossed lovers and her story with Group Captain Townsend got me right in the feels.

Very well made with super costuming, script, sets and locations. Big thumbs up (or should that be a royal wave) from me.

What did you think of these Netflix dramas, and what else have you been checking out lately? I’d love to hear your recommendations for something new!

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