In recent years we’ve seen “The Tudors” on Showtime, The “White Queen” on Starz and “Wolf Hall” on BBC and then PBS. Now we’re being introduced to a short-film by the name of “I am Henry” by Jan Hendrik Verstraten of Flying Dutchmen Films.
If you’re not familiar with the film it’s about King Henry VIII in the hour of his death. Henry contemplates his life, loves and those he’s wronged, wondering if he has earned his place at God’s table.
This film is a side of the infamous Tudor monarch we have yearned to see. How did Henry feel at the end of his life? As Tudor enthusiasts we’re interested in how these people felt and what was going through their heads. This short-film will show us the interpretation of writer/director Jan Hendrik Verstraten.
Jan Hendrik Verstraten does an amazing job on this film. It is visually stunning and the anticipation for the release is growing.
I had the honor of interviewing writer/director Jan Hendrik Verstraten about his film, “I am Henry” and am very grateful for the opportunity to share it with you. Please take a minute to watch the trailer and then read the interview below.
TW: What inspired you to make this film?
Jan Hendrik Verstraten: The story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn is without doubt one of the most fascinating love stories in English history. It’s full of drama, intrigue and suspense.
When I set out to write the screenplay however, it wasn’t my plan for it to be about this famous Tudor monarch. All I envisioned was a middle-aged man in an empty white room. While I sat down behind the computer, and felt this man’s presence. I started to realise it was King Henry VIII, that he just had died, and that he had not fully grasped yet what that meant.
A strange concept perhaps, but from then onwards I got really excited, started my research and looked deeper into his life.
The voices of Anne Boleyn, and Catherine of Aragon came alive quite easily, as if they were eager to share their experience and grief, especially what they felt when they were alive, and how Henry had tragically impacted their lives. It was the King himself who initially struggled to find his own voice, as if over the years, he had become lost, as a result of his misdeeds.
The characters are widely known, and I quickly realised that this was an advantage. There is no need to introduce them as most of the audience already knows about them, and Anne Boleyn, in particular, has a huge following worldwide. All of these elements were very helpful in making this short.
TW: I love the idea of Henry VIII being “haunted” by Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Do any of his other queens make an appearance in your film?
Jan Hendrik Verstraten: The film is told after King Henry VIII’s death. As a writer I could see the dramatic benefit of this approach. It’s fascinating to be able to hear Anne tell us what she felt while she was in the tower, and how it was to walk toward the scaffolding and her tragic death. Besides Katherine and Anne, no other queens appear although Henry mentions Jane Seymour when he talks to Anne.
TW: What person at Tudor court intrigues you the most, and why?
Jan Hendrik Verstraten: Without a doubt this is Anne. More than any of his other wives, she shaped Henry’s reign and legacy, and is at the heart of the film. Their love affair is on one hand a very personal one that everyone can relate to, and yet, at the same time, a relationship with far reaching consequences for church and state. Many questions remain about her personality, motives and true feelings.
TW: Do you believe Henry VIII, upon his death, regretted the way he treated his wives?
Jan Hendrik Verstraten: There is a yearning quality to the story as Henry finds himself in purgatory (limbo) and is confronted with his misdeeds, especially his betrayal of Anne. Though Henry insists he regrets nothing, we’re left uncertain this is actually the case. In my view Henry didn’t feel he could have acted differently in his position as King.
TW: This is a short film, correct? How long is it?
Jan Hendrik Verstraten: 23 Minutes
TW: When will it be released?
Jan Hendrik Verstraten: We hope to enter the short into film festival worldwide, and just heard we are selected for the International Filmmaker Festival of World Cinema LONDON 2016 (19-25 February 2016 www.filmmakerfestival.com and www.filmfestinternational.com). After we have done the festival rounds, we will make it available online.