- Title: Wolf Hall
- Director: Peter Kosminsky
- Released: 2015
Wolf Hall is the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies, the historical novels by Hilary Mantel.
Wolf Hall has 6 episodes. The plot follows the social, political and religious turmoil caused by King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn instead, breaking from the Catholic Church and founding the Church of England. The protagonist is Thomas Cromwell, lawyer and chief minister to the King.
I was really excited to watch Wolf Hall, having been given the book for Christmas, later reading its sequel, Bring Up The Bodies, and then receiving the DVD as a birthay present last month. I struggled through the books, if I’m honest, and I hoped that the TV adaptation would help me understand the characters, context and plot further.
Mark Rylance played Thomas Cromwell well, although I thought at times the dialogue sounded almost slurred, which was odd. Through body language and dialogue, he effectively recreated the sassiness of Cromwell which Mantel portays in her books.
However, I wasn’t convinced by Damian Lewis’s portayal of King Henry; he didn’t have a loud or powerful voice like I expected and I don’t feel like he was as present as he was in the books. I really liked the portayal of Anne, by Claire Foy – which I hadn’t when I was reading the books, and by the end of the series I truly felt sorry for her.
Overall, I think Wolf Hall did compact the narrative well and make Mantel’s plot easier to understand, as well as the historical context.
Yet, some episodes seemed more interesting than others – the first episode or two seemed quite drawn out and lacked any “action”, whereas the later episodes where more gripping as we reached the climax between Henry and Anne’s marriage, and the increasing interest in Jane Seymour (played by Kate Phillips).
I also found the jumps in narrative confusing; various flashbacks, flash-forwards and dream scenes were included within the main narrative and sometimes it wasn’t clear whether it was a dream, a flashback, or part of the current narrative.
Each episode relied heavily on dialogue, so it felt like you always had to be paying attention, and this made it difficult to watch an entire episode in one go.
However, the most exciting part of Wolf Hall for me was that it was filmed at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire, a beautiful location I was fortunate enough to visit on my summer holiday this year. To watch the TV series and see the beautiful, archaic rooms and gardens on the screen – knowing you’ve stood there too –felt almost magical!
On the whole, I think Wolf Hall is a well-made TV series. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, or you just want to experience something more of Tudor history, then you’ll really enjoy it.
If you want to know more about the locations used in Wolf Hall, you can go here:
That’s all for now!