“Legitimacy is far more important that personal preference.”
Since I really enjoy films made for British television, I was interested to see Princes in the Tower, a 2005 film now available on DVD. This was a terribly disappointing production–not at all the standard fare. The story of the fate of the two princes is a great, historical mystery. After the death of Edward IV, his two sons, Edward V and Richard were declared illegitimate, and their uncle, Richard put his nephews in the Tower of London, had himself crowned, and proceeded to rule the country. Shortly after this the two little boys simply disappeared.
The film doesn’t really focus on the fate of the two princes who disappeared in the Tower of London. In fact the film just spends a few cursory minutes showing the children locked up in a tower room when mysterious visitors arrive one evening with murderous intent.
The film then fast-forwards–The Princes’ sister is now married to Henry VII (Henry Tudor), and they have two sons, Arthur and Henry. All hell breaks loose in the kingdom when a claimant to the throne Perkin Warbeck (Mark Umbers) arrives on English soil. Claiming to be one of the missing princes, Warbeck–who stated he was the missing Prince Richard–was captured and thrown in the tower.
The film is a fictional account of the “trial” and interrogation of Warbeck. Fanciful and quite silly, the film at times feels more like one of those cheesy history channel reenactments than anything else. The film concentrates on Warbeck’s evidence and just as you think the imposter has been unmasked, the script throws a thread of doubt into the mix.
The film doesn’t delve into the mystery of the princes, the timing of their disappearance, and of course, there are many versions of what could have happened. History has largely laid the blame for the death of the princes on the shoulders of their dastardly uncle Richard III. And while it’s true that he directly benefited from their disappearance (he had himself crowned), placing the blame on Richard and well away from Tudor Henry VII also pleased the reigning Tudor monarchy and resulted in Shakespeare’s play Richard II written to entertain his Tudor sovereign.
The Spanish ambassador was a great deal of fun (even if he didn’t even come close to seeming Spanish). Henry VII (played well by Paul Hilton) steals the film, but I think I could have done without the fresh stool sample scene. But it’s almost as though someone in charge thought these sort of cheesy details added something to the film–for example there’s one scene when a plate with teeth on it yanked out by string is displayed to the camera.
For me, Princes in the Tower was an unfortunate tepid production. Yes, there’s mystery to the story, and this in attempt to fill in the gaps, but there’s also fact. The film seemed largely to avoid both aspects to this story. Directed by Justin Hardy.