Tuesday, May 26, 2009

London: Hampton Court Palace; The Tudors (2007 TV Series)

Before continuing with additional posts on our visit to Disneyland Paris, I thought I would fast-forward and share more about our days in London.

On our first full day after returning from Disneyland Paris, we took the train to see Hampton Court Palace, located on the River Thames just a few miles outside London.

Hampton Court was the home of King Henry VIII and British monarchs until the 18th century.

As with most palaces, photography is only permitted outdoors. You can learn more about the palace at the official website (click the title of this post).

The Fountain Court, designed by Christopher Wren. It's shot at an off angle as I wanted to exclude a lawn mower from the photo!

The palace has beautiful formal gardens:

Click any photo to enlarge and view details.

In the gardens:

I especially loved the "wild" gardens:

In the rose garden:

More of the rose garden:

Hampton Court was interesting but was not kept up as well as other royal palaces we have visited. It's in definite need of some heavy-duty restoration work, which is no doubt extremely expensive. Paper signs appearing here and there were tacky and appeared sloppy; surely they can do better than that.

The Tudor era has never been of particular interest to me, but due to visiting Hampton Court I decided to try out the TV series THE TUDORS (2007) via Netflix. My opinion of the first three episodes, viewed over the weekend, is mixed. The "fresh look" at history is well done, with lots of interesting palace intrigue headed by the always-fascinating Sam Neill as Cardinal Wolsey.

There are other good performances, including Jeremy Northam (EMMA) as Sir Thomas More and Maria Doyle Kennedy as Catherine of Aragon, although I might have detected an Irish brogue peeking out from under Catherine's Spanish accent. Natalie Dormer shows promise as the manipulative Anne Boleyn.

However, thus far I've found Jonathan Rhys Meyers to offer a boring one-note performance (that note being "creep"), while the plentiful naked bodies -- this was a cable production -- were just silly and had me hitting fast-forward on my remote. (Parental advisory: x-nay on any children viewing this!)

Henry's liaisons with Lady Blount (Ruta Gedmintas) and Mary Boleyn (Perdita Weeks) may have been true to history, but it would have been more interesting if the filmmakers had invested the effort to depict these scenes with some subtlety. The filmmakers seem to have lost sight of the concept that "less is more." One has the sense that they were showing some things just because they could, but the scenes were not dramatically compelling in the least, nor were they necessary to understand the plot, as was proven by my using the fast-forward button.

I'll try the next disc and hope it improves and that we see beyond Henry's shallow exterior to the man inside. (Or maybe, given his track record, there was no "there" there?) If anyone has watched this series, I'd enjoy your thoughts.

London posts coming soon: Kensington Palace; Windsor Castle; Blenheim Palace; and more!


Blogger Parsley said...

Just Lovely!

6:55 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Lovely garden, but even in the pictures the castle does look run down. How sad. Thanks for sharing!

I've not seen the show, so can't share any insights.


12:49 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Love the "wild" gardens, too. The Tudors is on my list to watch this summer break. From the few scenes I've seen, it looks like it's a very stylish production. Andrew Stuttaford at NRO gave a witty review of the show and makes the comparison,

"There is little in The Tudors to remind viewers that those great palaces were as dirty as they were imposing, grubby, magnificent islands in a sea of mud, squalor, and decay. It’s also reasonable to ask whether Henry’s entourage can really have been quite so good-looking as this series suggests. The Tudor court did indeed attract the young and the beautiful, but the casting of this show clearly owes more to the aesthetics of Abercrombie & Fitch than those of Hans Holbein."



8:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the link for that review, Dana, I'll check it out! Having seen many original Hans Holbein paintings this month, that gave me a particular chuckle. I had been thinking myself that the people in the show sure looked better than those in the paintings!!

Best wishes,

8:58 PM  
Blogger trains and sewing machines said...

I also took a Paris/London trip..Hampton Court Palace was at the top of my list, as I'm a huge Tudor fanatic [not as a result of the series or of the work of Phillipa Gregory]. To be honest, I much preferred Hampton Court than the Super-Renovated Versailles or the I-Do-Live-Here look of Buckingham. Hampton Court has a rich history, which tends to get lost when palaces get renovated. It's nice to see a bit of chipping here or there, the whites looking a little gray in some places. It gives a real authenticity to a place.

When the Tudors first came out, I rushed to go watch it. I couldn't stand it at first, so I abandoned it due to it's lack of historical authenticity [costuming is WAY off. History has been distorted to make it more "interesting" to the uneducated American population it caters to. Characters are invented.] But then I later returned to it, mainly out of boredom.

The show starts to get better as it progresses. The third season is a little closer to the truth. It starts to show Henry NOT as a HunkyHunk but as a sore, fat, balding man who is haunted by his guilt, throwing away 3 women and whatnot.

I still can't get over the inaccurate dressing, though. They actually had Anne Boleyn in BREECHES in the second season. WHAT IS THAT?!?!?!

3:16 PM  

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