Princes in the Tower


I thought it was timely when I read Richard Armitage mention his interest in Richard III, just after I had requested the DVD of Princes in the Tower from my library. It's a story surrounded in mystery so I wanted to find out more about the events around it and the "players" upon that stage. I always get a kick when I finally make a connection between known historical figures. In this case, I discovered that Richard III is the king who imprisoned his nephews "the princes in the tower", Edward and Richard and they were never seen alive again. Richard III was succeeded by Henry VII, who fathered the famous Henry VIII. Brits probably know these facts inside and out but as a Canadian who never studied British history, I find these stories interesting as I play "connect the dots" with their family trees! For the record, Richard III is not featured in Princes in the Tower so I didn't learn any more about the character that Mr. Armitage is interested in taking on one day...

This turned out to be a documentary but for the most part it played as a dramatic film. Since historians don't know all the details of what really happened, this film takes us on a journey of exploring the possiblities while relaying known facts. Mark Umbers plays Perkin Warbeck, the pretender to the throne, claiming to be Prince Richard who survived the tower and arrives in London with supporters who believe his claim. The movie follows the ongoing inquiry into whether or not he is in fact Richard, the son of King Edward IV.

Umbers was the highlight for me, his charisma made me believe that he was the heir to the throne. The other performance that impressed me was Sally Edwards as Lady Margaret Beaufort, a lady I would not wish to cross! She was cold and calculating and yet so human in her desire to protect her son, King Henry VII and uphold his throne.

I was also compelled by Queen Elizabeth of York (wife of King Henry VII) as she struggled with loyalty to him and this man claiming to be her brother Richard, no longer dead as believed but now threatening her husband's claim to the throne. I found one scene in particular to be a dramatic illustration of just how cut throat rulers were to secure their power. King Henry, asks Elizabeth, the mother of his sons Arthur and Henry, what she will do if in fact Richard is found to be her brother. Who will she choose? Henry suggests that if Richard does become king, he would certainly want to kill Arthur and Henry to prevent them from returning one day and claiming the throne for themselves.

The quality of this production is not as glamourous as other films but if you're interested in history, you might want to check it out.

Here's a scene from the film where King Henry is interrogating Richard/Perkin

"The Two Princes Edward and Richard in the Tower"
Sir John Millais


King Henry VII

Elizabeth of York (11 February 1466 – 11 February 1503)
was the daughter, sister, niece, wife and mother of Kings of England.

She was Queen of England as spouse of King Henry VII, whom she married in 1486.


"King Edward V and the Duke of York in the Tower of London" - Paul Delaroche




This is my 3rd movie in the Period Movie Challenge

5 comments:

  1. Ha! In Australian schools, we did British history until we knew it better than we knew Australian history.

    Nonetheless the story of Richard III and the princes in the Tower is totally vexed and probably, in the end, unknowable. Read Josephine Tey's VERY little book called The Daughter of Time where she raises questions, rather than providing answers about Richard III's involvement. You can polish it off in bed one night.

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  2. Hi Hels,
    Thanks for mentioning that book!

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  3. I don't remember this production being on TV at all, so I must have missed it completely - sounds very interesting from your review. I did read the Josephine Tey book years ago and found it fascinating. Judy

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  4. Judy, I'm not sure if you would be that impressed since you are already familiar with those events. The production was not the best quality I've ever seen but learning about that point in history made it worthwhile for me.

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  5. hello charleybrown,

    huh, a sore topic you've picked there! if you want to know more about that richard richard chose as a dreampart you might wish to check out richard loncraines film with ian mckellen as richard III after shakespeare's piece. a great film, but with really hard scenes. whatever shakespeare is said to have left off stage is shown here. well almost everything. the lost princes are "just" shown being deported to the tower if i remember rightly. i should see that film again as well.

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