My A Man for All Seasons, movie review. I thought this was a really well written, well acted, thought provoking movie. Before watching the movie I didn’t know anything about the story of Sir Thomas More or his impact on world history. (I watched the 1966 version of the movie which won 6 academy awards). Attending a Catholic law school I think was the only person who didn’t know that attorney Thomas More was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (1935) and declared patron saint of politicians and statesmen (2000).
I enjoyed this conversation between Saint Thomas More and a former friend, Norfolk:
“Norfolk: Oh, confound all this…. I’m not a scholar, and frankly I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not. But damn it, Thomas, look at those names…. You know those men! Can’t you do what I did, and come with us, for fellowship?
More: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?”
Later, More’s future son-in-law, Roper, urges him to arrest Richard Rich, whose perjury will eventually lead to More’s execution.
More answers that Rich has broken no law, “And go he should if he were the Devil himself until he broke the law!” Roper is appalled at the idea of granting the Devil the benefit of law, but More is adamant.
“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? … And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you – where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”
As attorneys (or future attorneys) there will be times that we are asked to do things that are legal but against our own moral beliefs. If we aren’t true to ourselves it will be hard to live with ourselves.