Princes in the Tower (review)

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Perkin Warbeck, a Flemish merchant, claimed in 1491 to be one of the young princes of the British throne who’d been disappeared into the Tower of London — and presumably murdered — eight years earlier, allowing Henry VII to claim the throne and establish the Tudor line. Was Warbeck the rightful heir to the throne, or one of history’s greatest imposters? This 2005 British TV movie explores this half-millennium-old mystery, and comes up with its own intriguing answer. Along the way, though, it undermines its own power by eschewing all traces of the sentiment and sensationalism that might have boosted its cinematic urgency — this comes across more as a dramatized documentary than a dramatic story with its own narrative integrity. I blame the staid narration; ostensibly by Sir Thomas More (Richard Griffiths: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), it sounds like a lecture. Still, hot up-and-coming British actor Mark Umbers is riveting as Warbeck, and the plot, revolving around Warbeck’s attempts to prove his claim under interrogation after being captured by Henry VII’s military forces, has moments of real muscle. If only the whole movie did. Also included on the disc is an excerpt from the documentary series The Tower that focuses on the fate of the young princes. [buy at Amazon]

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