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The Tudors on Film and Television is both a comprehensive filmography and a historical analysis of Tudor films that provides basic information about production, participants, plot, and provenance for every item included, as well as assessing the aesthetic qualities, historicity, cultural significance, and potential usefulness in the classroom of each. The authors have attempted to list and discuss, to the extent information is available, all films—fiction or non-fiction—which treat the Tudor monarchs and their times. The book includes feature films; made-for-television films, mini-series and series; animated films and shorts. It includes serious treatments of history as well as historical spoofs; adaptations of novels and plays; children’s educational programs as well as pure children’s entertainment; foreign films and television programs; operas; episodes of situation comedies or science fiction. Some of these films have no royal characters but are only set in the Tudor period (1485-1603), and some may even be set in modern times with flashbacks or time travel. Inevitably, all convey the attitudes of the time in which they were made as well as commenting on Tudor times, as in the case of The Sea Hawk (1940), with its anti-German message, and A Man for All Seasons (1966), with its emphasis on individual conscience. The sensational elements of Tudor history have been appealing to British, American, and continental movie makers and audiences from the early days of film; in silent films, no language barrier existed to prevent films about Henry VIII’s excesses and Mary Stuart’s plight made in Italy, France, and Germany from finding audiences in England and North and South America.  


The authors have made every effort to be complete in compiling The Tudors Film and Television. However, we recognize that the Tudors’ continuing popularity as a subject for filmmakers guarantees that there will be more films to come; indeed, as of his writing several are rumored to be in pre-production. In addition, despite an exhaustive search of the British Film Institute, the Library of Congress, the Internet Movie DatabaseVariety, and numerous other resources, we have continued to stumble upon more titles—most of them admittedly obscure—right up to the point of publication, and we will not be surprised if others turn up later. Therefore, this website will allow us to supplement the material in this book with information about hitherto undiscovered films made through the end of 2011, additional details that may come to light about the films included here, the recovery of films currently believed no longer extant, and new online entries about films made in and after 2012. We also will welcome discussion, so please join us. 


We are convinced that scholars cannot afford to simply ignore films about history, as David Herlihy argues (“Am I a Camera? Other Reflections on Film and History,” American Historical Review93, 1988); rather, it is essential to engage them. Most historical films have a far wider audience than scholarly works on the same subject, and historians who do not point out their shortcomings concede the field to fiction. On the other hand, all but the worst films get at least some things right, and history teachers can use them in varying degrees to introduce students to architecture, clothing, landscape, and even the violence and squalor of sixteenth century life. Moreover, historical films can be used to lure students into more serious study. As our own experience in offering courses on film and history shows, students respond well to the challenge of comparing a film to appropriate readings, and even undergraduates are remarkably adept at ferreting out errors. Film encourages interest, stimulates critical thinking, and reinforces memory. (See also Eric Josef Carlson, “Teaching Elizabeth Tudor with Movies, Sixteenth Century Journal, 2007.)


We wish to stress that we do not see The Tudors on Film and Television as a final statement on films about the Tudor period; rather, we hope that it will provide a convenient starting place and reference for further work. Many of the films included here are worthy of far more detailed treatment than was possible in a work of this nature. There already are excellent examples of different and/or more detailed studies, notably Susan Bordo, The Creation of Anne Boleyn (2013); Mark Thornton Burnett and Adrian Street, eds., Filming and Performing Renaissance History (2011); Michael Dobson and Nicola J. Watson, England’s Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy (2002); Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, eds., Tudors and Stuart on Film: Historical Perspectives (2009); Elizabeth A. Ford, Royal Portraits in Hollywood: Filming the Lives of Queens (2009); Bethany Latham, Elizabeth I in Film and Television: A Study of the Major Portrayals (2011); Mark Rankin, Christopher Highly, and John N. King, eds., Henry VIII and His Afterlives: Literature, Politics, and Art (2009); Greg Colón Semenza, ed., The English Renaissance in Popular Culture: An Age of for All Time (2010); Tatiana String and Marcus Bull, Tudorism: Historical Imagination and the Appropriation of the Sixteenth Century (2011); and Greg Walker, The Private Life of Henry VIII: British Film Guide (2003). We hope to see more and perhaps to contribute a few ourselves.