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The Private Life of Henry VIII

This biopic of England’s most infamous ruler took America by storm and ushered in a new era of British filmmaking.

Dir Alexander Korda
Scr Lajos Biró, Arthur Wimperis
With Charles Laughton, Robert Donat, Merle Oberon
UK
1933
94min

The Private Life of Henry VIII is one of the most influential works in British film history, being the first to break into the US market and bringing a prestige to the industry it had never had. Flamboyant Hungarian producer/director Alexander Korda burst onto the scene and shook up British cinema for good, bringing national heritage to our screens, but adding lavish sets and costumes. Charles Laughton was born to play the monarch and gives a spirited and humorous Oscar-winning performance, veering between spoiled man-child and the regal grace befitting his role. Korda’s biopic focuses on the man rather than the office, ignoring all politics except the sexual, as Henry works his way through a series of ill-fated wives.

Josephine Botting

Additional information

Restored by the BFI National Archive and The Film Foundation, in association with ITV and Park Circus.

Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

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