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Robert Bolt’s Man for All Seasons: Christian saint or “hero of selfhood”?

By Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 21, 2020 | In Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast

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In this bonus episode of Criteria, Thomas asks attorney and scholar Louis Karlin whether Robert Bolt’s play and film A Man for All Seasons accurately depict St. Thomas More’s views on the rights of conscience, and his motives for martyrdom.

More’s involvement in the prosecution of heretics is also examined: even if More was a martyr of conscience, is it accurate to call him a champion of religious freedom? One thing is certain: the portrayal by Hilary Mantel and others of More as a torturer of heretics is false.

Next on the Vatican film list is the first installment of Dekalog, a 10-part series of short films inspired by the Ten Commandments. See below for information on where to watch it.

Links

The Center for Thomas More Studies https://thomasmorestudies.org/

Lecture by Richard Rex critiquing the historical fiction of Hilary Mantel, “More the villain and Cromwell the hero?” https://ionainstitute.ie/thomas-more-thomas-cromwell-and-wolf-hall/

William Marshner, “Dignitatis Humanae and Traditional Teaching on Church and State” https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=8778

Thomas Pink, “Conscience and Coercion” https://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/08/conscience-and-coercion

Louis W. Karlin and David R. Oakley, Inside the Mind of Thomas More: The Witness of His Writings https://www.amazon.com/Inside-Mind-Thomas-More-Writings/dp/1594173133

Karlin, Wegemer and Kelly, Thomas More’s Trial by Jury: A Procedural Legal Review with a Collection of Documents https://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Mores-Trial-Jury-Procedural/dp/1843838737/

Stephen Smith (ed.), For All Seasons: Selected Letters of Thomas More https://www.amazon.com/All-Seasons-Selected-Letters-Thomas/dp/1594171637

Wegemer and Smith (ed.), The Essential Works of Thomas More https://www.amazon.com/Essential-Works-Thomas-More/dp/0300223374/

St. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ https://www.amazon.com/Sadness-Christ-Thomas-More/dp/1849020558

The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Vol. 14, De Tristitia Christi https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Works-Thomas-Tristitia-Christi/dp/0300017936

Other podcasts on St. Thomas More

Criteria film discussion https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/man-for-all-seasons-1966/

Audiobook of More’s Dialogue on Conscience https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/st-thomas-more-dialogue-on-conscience/

Dekalog

Of all the films on the Vatican list, Dekalog is one of the two most difficult to find. The only place it can be streamed online is with a subscription on https://easterneuropeanmovies.com (which is, surprisingly, legal).

The best viewing experience will be the recent restored edition on Blu-Ray/DVD from Criterion (https://www.criterion.com/films/28661-dekalog), but it’s pricey. Older editions on Blu-Ray and DVD are available for considerably cheaper on Amazon and elsewhere. But for many people, the most convenient way of seeing Dekalog may be to borrow it from your local library.

Music is The Duskwhales, “Take It Back”, used with permission.

Criteria is hosted by Thomas V. Mirus and James T. Majewski.

Thomas is a pianist living in New York City. He is the director of audio media for CatholicCulture.org and hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast. See full bio.

James is a stage, film, and voice actor based in New York City, holding a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. He is the host and narrator for Catholic Culture Audiobooks. See full bio.

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