28 thoughts on “Anne of Cleves in Movies and TV

  1. Alice of Sherwood has a channel on Youtube where she discusses each wife and rates their appearances in movies and TV for accuracy. I think she rated the 1970 version of Anne as the best one. She has more than 1 video for each wife, at least 1 covering the life and 1 for rating the portrayals. She’s up to Catherine Howard now.

    1. Thanks for the Alice of Sherwood rec. I’m fond of Elsa Lanchester’s interpretation; I’m fond of Elsa, period. 1970’s Anne is probably my fave, but that was simply a great series, one that hit all the important marks, including the great black and gold dress.

      1. Love Lanchester’s interpretation. The fact that she practices making faces in the mirror to look ugly and keep Henry off of her is a nice reflection of Anne’s intelligence.

        1. Lanchester is an absolute hoot. I just love the wedding night. One actually feels sorry for Henry. 😁

  2. I love Six Wives with Lucy Worsley. She gave depth and weight to all of the queens equally, and didn’t play favorites like some do.

    1. Did you see her Tudor Christmas episode? She dresses as “her favorite” Anne of Cleves in one part. (But Lucy as Henry . . . I said to my hubs, “She’s having way too much fun with this.”)

  3. As we can see from her portrait Anne was not ugly at all. She was in fact much better looking than Jane Seymour, also painted by Holbein, and arguably better looking than Katherine Parr just as Chapuys claims. Her rather stolid personality and abundant curves simply didn’t appeal to Henry.
    Her German fashions would certainly have struck the English as gaudily overdone and absurd. Being badly dressed by English standards was just the final straw. Contemporaries note how much better she looked after adopting English clothes, which she seems to have done after the divorce. She is also described as being merry and socially popular. Being released from the pressures of marriage to Henry VIII apparently made her blossom. Henry was delighted by her cooperation and they became quite friendly once they were no longer married.

    1. It’s been claimed that Holbein had kind of a crush on Anne and painted a rare flattering portrait of her to show Henry.

      1. So it has but I don’t believe it. The ambassador to Clever considered it an excellent likeness and Anne’s looks favorably impressed a number of English people who met her on her progress to England.
        No, the trouble seems to have boiled down to her not being Henry’s type. Anne was tall and voluptuous and Henry liked his women slender and petit. Anne was also ‘brown’ olive skinned and dark haired and Henry preferred fair skinned blonds or redheads. Anne Boleyn was the sole exception and reminders of her may have been even more off putting.

        1. But when he was looking for a wife after Jane died, he apparently really wanted to marry Marie de Guise, who was tall and statuesque. He claimed that as a big man, he needs a big woman. She really didn’t want to marry him, though, and Married James of Scotland instead.

          1. I know. I wonder if he’d have been disappointed in her too? Maybe not, Marie was French and sophisticated and would have known how to play the courtly game.

    1. Came here to say this! I loved it and she was my favorite character. She has the last laugh and probably had the best life in the long run. (Also LOVED Haus of Holbein!)

  4. For those interested in a more thorough, yet still fun and fictiony, look at Anne of Cleves, check out Alison Weir’s book on her. Of course it’s not super historically accurate, but it does explore how interesting her story really was and flesh out all the political manuevering ignored in most biopics of her life.

    There’s a lot of potential in the “awkward immigrant manages to outwith the King of England and get far more freedom than other women in her time period” concept, and it’s a shame more modern media doesn’t explore it.

  5. I’d go for Lucy Worsley’s more even-handed version. The trouble is, we can never really know the full story of any historical personage, only what the chroniclers of the times and modern historians interpret. Sometimes, there are diaries, but even they have a bias. As for the modern media treatment of our contemporaries, they are hardly even-handed either.

  6. Anne of Cleves has always been my favorite of Henry’s wives. She was beautiful and seemed to be fine with her role as being in the background. I haven’t seen many portrayals of her, but I love her scenes in The Tudors.

  7. Thank you. She always was my favourite of the wives. Not badass. Not ambitious. Just an intelligent woman who knew what she wanted, what was achievable for a woman in that time and got it.

  8. Ignoring the crappy costumes (which is difficult), I enjoyed the way she was portrayed in The Tudors. Until they got to the part where Henry has to sleep with her. Ugh, why?

  9. Elvi Hale was delightful and put a satisfying spin on Anne and Henry by making her the instigator of the “King’s sister” ruse. Her costumes were nicely done and historically accurate. And I liked Joss Stone on The Tudors but can’t quite gloss over their conceit that Henry realized his mistake and slept with her on the sly.

  10. I’ve always loved Anne of Cleves, talk about making the best of an impossible situation. I understand why she is overlooked, but it’s a real shame. It may not be the most accurate, but Elsa Lancaster’s performance is wonderful. Elvi Hale does such a good job fleshing her out in just an hour, and while the Tudors is a hot mess, I remember really enjoying Joss Stone as Anne too

  11. Lucy Worsley may have a more interesting POV, but David Starkey is the better historian. So I watch both…although my husband refuses to watch Worsley. For various reasons, he can’t stand her, so he misses good stuff as does anyone not watching Starkey. So far, I have refused to watch all of ‘The Tudors’ as the historical accuracy is so bad. Am I missing something? Does it improve?

    1. The Tudors was never meant to be historically accurate. Michael Hirst who created it even says so, he stated showtime did not hire him to write a biography of Henry, but they hired him to write a historical fiction soap. So that is what he did. I actually love the Tudors, it has great acting and the costumes while not accurate are still pretty. If u get past the “not being historically accurate” thing I think u will enjoy it. Plus Natalie Dormer is the shit as Anne Boleyn!

  12. Anne must have been a clever woman to have hit just the right note of poignant grief at losing Henry while at the same time obliging him. She seems to have been just as happy to end the marriage as he was, as soon as she understood she could do so safely. She did very well materially out of the divorce, remained a member of the royal family with precedence after the queen and the King’s daughters, and the annulment paper specifically said she was free to remarry. It probably would have suited Henry very well if she had remarried as long as her bridegroom was English, as it would have eliminated the constant rumours he would take her back. But Anne apparently had had enough of marriage, her position as a wealthy King’s Sister was very satisfactory.

  13. Lucy Worsley has an infinitely more interesting & comprehensive POV than Starkey.

    This could be said about just about anything. :-)

    Anne is probably my favorite wife. I go with the theory that Henry’s reaction was more about his ego than about her appearance. She didn’t respond the way he wanted to his disguise, and he took offense. She was clever to play the hand she was dealt in the safest way possible, by giving Henry a chance to save face the way he wanted.

    Also, as a SCAdian, I have dreams of one day wearing the Holbein portrait dress.

  14. I haven’t seen any of the portrayals listed. I have read the Alison Weir book. It was fine. Anne has always been my favorite, just based on the facts we do have. She was smart. She knew what’d happened to her forbears, and she maneuvered herself to a safe spot w/o triggering Hank’s “but I’m the King!” complex. Smart wins.

  15. ‘Catherine of Aragon got two seasons of a Starz TV series that glorified her as warrior queen.’

    That may be so, but I fucking hate that series and everything to do with it. Every time I see a gifset of that Catherine on tumblr (which is way too much) I want to punch her in the face. That series made her into such a colossal bitch. I thought nothing could be worse than the PFG book that inspired it, but I was wrong. I adore the real KoA and sitting through that monstrous inaccurate atrocity made me scream repeatedly into my couch pillows to avoid scaring my pets. :P

    That being said, has anyone else noticed that in The Tudors, the “slut wives” (Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard) get nude/sex scenes, and the “nice” wives (Katharine, Anne of Cleves, Jane Seymour, Katherine Parr) do not? Once I realized it, I couldn’t un-see it. Says a lot about how Michael Hurst thought of them, and wanted to portray them. I can’t figure out if it pisses me off or if I admire it as a writing technique, since it subtly infers their respectability or “lack thereof” in terms of character. (Scandalous rumors about them > sexualizing them.)

    Whomever mentioned Lucy Worsley’s bio on the wives — spot on. Terrific cast all around in that, although I felt a little biased toward the absolute bad-ass that was Katharine of Aragon in Part I. Finally, a DAMN REDHEAD.

  16. Anne of Cleves had always been my favourite queen, she held her nerve against that big bully Henry and came out of the whole experience with status, power and respect. And her portrait by Holbein is the most beautiful of all the queens

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