Thursday, January 19, 2017

Edward VI's Georgian Coronation

On Tuesday, Turner Classic Movies aired a series of Errol Flynn movies including Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, and The Prince and the Pauper. Based upon Mark Twain's historical comedy novel, the story in the latter movie takes place after Henry VIII's death when his son Edward trades places with a poor boy named Tom Canty. Evil Edward Seymour, the Earl of Hertford, played by Claude Rains, takes advantage of the confusion to use the fake Prince as his pawn while Miles Hendon, Errol Flynn, protects the real king. The boys are played by brothers, Billy and Bobby Mauch, who seem several years older than the historical Edward's nine years at the time of his coronation.

Warner Brothers intended The Prince and the Pauper to be released in time for the coronation of Edward VIII, but because Edward wanted to marry Wallis Simpson, he abdicated and the coronation--now of his younger brother George--and the release of the film were delayed until May of 1937.

The Coronation Scene, which is very detailed and gorgeously filmed in black and white, is a set piece. Although the real Edward and Miles are on their way to Westminster Abbey, the director had no interest in creating any tension--there are no cuts to Edward and Miles coming closer as the anointing and the coronation of the fake Edward is proceeding. They arrive with seconds to spare! 

 A footnote in this book, which describes how Erich Korngold composed his own version of the coronation anthem, "Zadok the Priest", includes the promotional detail that this scene would be similar to the rites in King George VI's coronation so much so that "Those of us who are not fortunate enough to be able to see the actual rites, will witness an accurate picture of what will occur in Westminster Abbey in May."

So instead of trying to achieve authenticity to the historical coronation of Edward VI, the producers opted for authenticity to the contemporary coronation of George VI! 

I also found it amusing that Edward trusted Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk most of all and that he exiled his historical Protector, Somerset (Claude Rains) at the end of the movie. The anniversary of Somerset's execution is coming up--January 22, 1552.

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