Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Yes, this is a blog dedicated to rock, more specifically classic rock. However, yesterday I was able to catch Joss Stone in her first extensive performance as Anne of Cleves in SHOWTIME'S The Tudors. Her character had appeared in the previous episode, but was seen and heard from only in distant long shots.

The story so far...England's Henry VIII's third wife Jane Seymour has died after childbirth. Depressed and mourning, Henry goes into seclusion trusting only his court jester and becomes even more irrational and paranoid with each day. Additionally, he continues in constant suffering from an ulcerated wound in his leg that will not heal, which has started to limit his mobility.

Danger lurks in the form of Spain and a possible alliance with France. Both have reason to wish to invade Protestant England and win it back to Catholicism. Henry's chief minister, Cromwell, urges the King to marry a Protestant German Duchess, Anne of Cleves in order to give England ties to the German Protestant HANSEATIC LEAGUE. Holbein, the court painter, is sent to the Duchy to paint a portrait of Anne to be given to Henry so he could see what the Duchess looks like. Cromwell tells Holbein to make sure the portrait is flattering- Cromwell has dedicated himself to keeping England Protestant. Henry likes the portrait when it is presented to him, and meets the young unsophisticated Anne when she arrives in Britain...and he can't stand her at first sight.

Below, Anne of Cleves is presented at the English Court for the first time.

Joss Stone did a very good job in her portrayal of Anne. She was understated, sympathetic, and totally believable as an innocent young German aristocrat who was sheltered most of her life and knew little of the outside world. Joss handled the German accent with out making it an SNL style cartoon. To those who wouldn't know Joss Stone from Steve Stone, you'd be hard pressed to know that she was not, indeed German.

There is only one sticking point in Joss's casting. Henry tells all that will listen that Anne "looks like a horse". Take a look at the picture on the top of this column. This beautiful woman sure ain't no horse!

But that's casting...and suspend your disbelief.

Overall..a very fine performance. And there is more drama on the way, as the brief union between Anne and Henry falters and then falls apart completely.

True, THE TUDORS is English history as soap opera; but its a darn good soap opera, and I never miss it.

And more heads will be rolling in the very near future.


Katie said...

Aha - but it was brilliant casting that she DOESN'T look like a horse! Anne of Cleves never did look like a horse, and likely wasn't even considered very ugly by Tudor-era standards.

Henry - by that time - was such a bloated, diseased wind bag that he couldn't...ahem...function as a husband should. And when he discovered this, he blamed Anne as it being her fault.

This has always been history's joke, that poor Anne of Cleves wasn't revolting at all (especially by our standards today!), she was just matched with a pig of a king!

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Good points, Katie. But even though he was a bloated windbag and a Mel Brooks would say "Its (still) good to be the King".

Anonymous said...

Joss understated as she was is still by far prettier than the actress playing Catherine Howard. Who the bloody hell thought Henry would ever leave Anne of Cleves for THAT? While Joss did an AMAZING job with the accent and characterization (you go girl!) Can't wait to see more of Joss in ANYTHING and hope they behead Catherine Season 4 Episode 1

Hugh Jee From Jersey said...

Anon- Ahh, I can tell from your "bloody hell" that you're from somewhere in the British Isles. And for THE TUDORS to stick close to historical accuracy (for them, anyway) Catherine Howard is going to be around for awhile....and its going to get very, very messy before she makes her exit. Since they'll probably be 10 episodes in the final year, probably 6 or 7 will deal with Henry, Catherine, and the havoc she and her "friends" caused, and Henry's reaction.

And Joss should be a part of season 4 as well...Anne of Cleves was said to have become a close friend and confidante of Henry in his last years.

"Looks like a horse" we say in New Jersey, "fageddaboutitt!"

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