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If you want a good movie about Henry VIII and Anne Bolyen, rent Anne of
the Thousand Days. That was a film that used history to tell a story
about real people who had a love to change a nation.
In this version of the eponymous Phillipa Gregory novel, historical inaccuracies abound. Approximately fifteen years are compressed into two hours with no indication time has gone by except for various babies. None of the characters ever change or grow any older. The characters in this movie are completely one-sided. Anne is ambitious. Henry is a womanizer. Mary is simple. No one has any complexities. The sisterly rivalry plays out like an underdeveloped soap opera.
On the other hand, the film is engaging and the costumes lovely. Same with the gorgeous palace settings.
Eye candy it is. Truthful or realistic it isn't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The "Other Boleyn Girl" hit theaters today, and of course, I was in for
the first showing. I've been anticipating this movie for over 2 years
now, ever since I first heard it was in production.
Why can't directors seem to get it right when it comes to this time period?I understand completely the Hollywood concept of "dramatic" flair for the big screen. But there is a difference between "dramatic flair" and complete revisionist history. This movie makes the HBO series, "The Tudors" seem like a BBC documentary as far as factual information is concerned.
Now, the director is not all to blame. Phillippa Gregory does a damn good job of distorting the truth in this alternate interpretation of the story of Anne Boleyn. Her portrayal of Anne as ruthlessly ambitious and downright devilish is at odds with the softer portrayals favored by Jean Plaidy and other authors of this period. Anne's own diaries would suggest her true personality to be more of the unwilling victim and royal pawn in the schemes cooked up by her ambitious male relatives. Only when she discovered that her path in life would be to submit or face death or exile does she succumb to Henry's advances.
The opening scenes of the movie concern how Anne and Henry met. Well, there is debate on this, the movie selects Hever. I'll allow that. But this first it was most certainly not in front of the whole court and followed by a hunt in which Henry takes a tumble, to be nursed back to health by Mary, Anne's OLDER sister (the movie and book portrays her as the younger sister-this is false). Anne's ambitions are apparent from this very day, she indeed seems to find her father and uncle's schemes appealing and agrees to "hunt" his majesty. Hardly the case in reality. Anne was in love with and betrothed to Henry Percy at the time of her first meeting with Henry. The movie has it backwards. She does not "settle" for Percy only after Mary has "stolen" Henry. Another extremely annoying point of order here .Cardinal Wolsey is completely absent from this film. This is such a blaring error as to render the movie completely abominable. Wolsey is such a force in the entire drama, from the arrangement of the marriage AND the divorce, to all matters of state and religion in between to leave him out is both amateur and foolish, not to mention a missed opportunity for much needed plot thickening.
Running through the laundry list of other inaccuracies .Anne was not EXILED to France because she fumbled her attempt to seduce Henry. This is utterly ridiculous. It is well known that both Anne and Mary practically grew up in the French court from the time they were 12 to their late teens. Only then did the sisters join the English court, much less begin their dramas with the king. And she was not brought back to entertain Henry whilst Mary lay in with his child. Again Anne most strongly wanted to marry her first love, Henry Percy, Duke of Northumberland. But once Henry had set his eyes upon her and chose to make her his own, then and only then were her uncle and father's schemes put into motion. Their original intentions were to milk the long-going affair of her sister Mary for all it was worth.
Now, as for the "incest" theory. Gregory is taking a huge risk here by suggesting that the allegation levied upon Anne and her brother George was indeed founded in truth, borne out of Anne's desperation to get with child after her miscarriage. I do believe Anne was desperate to get pregnant quickly, and she was very close to her brother but this is a huge leap, and one true historians would never make. It also suggest that something other than Henry's brute desires were at play here when he charged them with treason, which is not the case. He simply wanted to be rid of Anne, to beget a male heir off of his next mistress.
And good gracious what of the rape scene? Not only is this disturbing, but so far fetched. Although Anne resisted for years, when she finally gave in to Henry, she did believe herself to be in love with him or at the very least, resigned to accept her fate. And Henry was completely besotted with her .why else would he break from Rome, Catholicism and risk his kingdom for anything less? No, he would not have raped Anne for their first sexual encounter. He was a brute, but he was most concerned of his image of the romantic courtier when it came to women's affections.
Finally, a note on the characters. Portman does an acceptable job portraying the character from the book even though this character is not the true Anne Boleyn. Johannson makes a lovely Mary and probably quite close to the real woman. As for Bana a sore disappointment. Bad casting, bad acting. Is this the same Bana of the acclaimed Munich and Troy? Where was the range? He comes across as flat and not well studied. Jonathon Rhys Meyers of the HBO Tudors blows him out of the water on all levels .sensuality, intensity and evil as Henry the 8th.
Why can't I just watch these movies and leave feeling entertained? I don't quite know I care too much about 15th century England for some reason. It became hardwired in me after watching Anne of the Thousand Days as a young girl. No Tudor movie since then has gotten close in accuracy or sheer entertainment since then. Burton and Bujold are classic and untouchable. But after watching this hack job, I have to say I am looking forward to the new season of the Tudors on HBO.
A quick glimpse at the Tudor family line on Wikipedia will yield
hundreds of years of made-for-movie material, but none quite as
compelling as the story of Anne Boleyn. Pair a classic story with airy
language, beautiful sets and costumes, and some A-list names and you
have Oscar magic in the making. Right? Well, not always. We've seen it
before and we're not necessarily impressed with royalty anymore. The
Other Boleyn Girl offers new perspectives and dramatic angles on the
saga of wives that is Henry VIII's legacy, but nearly drowns in
And it's not entirely the movie's fault. Boleyn Girl follows the story of both Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn and their relationship with the English court. King Henry VIII (Eric Bana) has trouble producing a male heir, so the Boleyn family offers their daughter Anne to bed. When Henry has a hunting accident due to Anne's carelessness, he is nursed and subsequently charmed by innocent Mary. But Mary is already married, so the King promotes her husband and sends the couple to court where he can meet with Mary whenever he pleases. Mary falls in love with Henry and becomes his mistress. Anne, the elder sister, is scorned by what she believes is her sister's ultimate betrayal, and plots revenge. The two continue on in these roles for some time, swapping places in bed with Henry and spurting out babies while their relatives egg them on. This isn't quite how things went down in reality, but the changes are minor and seem necessary to condense the timeline and create at least one sympathetic character.
The Other Boleyn Girl fares best when it's exploring the relationship between Anne and Mary. This isn't the first story of sister rivalry, but the dynamic between Anne and Mary is extraordinarily well-played. Their previous roles and their public images make Portman and Johansson perfect fits. We believe Portman to be intelligent and coy, and Johansson to be naive and desired. More - we believe these roles might be easily reversed. As sisters, their relationship is deeply disturbing: they love each other, they hate each other, they're unable to escape the expectations placed upon them by their family. As an older sister (with an admittedly not-as-screwed-up relationship), I found this portrayal very realistic - rich with emotion and complex meaning.
I wish I could say the rest of the movie was as artful. There's constant allusion and foreshadowing to the Boleyn demise through use of visual and editing metaphors. If some details were twisted, other details might have been cut out - too many tear-filled scenes means that this eventually feels like a soap opera. At one point in the movie, Anne is sent off to France and comes back wearing a very distracting "B" charm, which she sports until the end of the movie. When I finally finished inventing what else "B" might stand for (besides Boleyn, there are plenty of other fits), I wondered about Anne's character. She's now praised as being changed and thus back in play, but I don't see it - she was smart and ambitious before, and only gained a bit of wit during her trip to France - certainly not the drastic change everyone seemed to be making it out to be. There are some very poorly done scenes where supporting cast spell out the politics of the situation for you. This is a little condescending and probably unnecessary, if not repetitive. The costumes are beautiful, but the matching dresses become unbelievable and even plain in places. PETA must have a field day with this movie and its use of fur and meat. You won't get to see Scarlett Johansson naked in this movie, in case you were wondering - just lots of fuzzy sex montages, weirdly full of backlit hair and fur. Katherine of Aragon (Henry VIII's first wife) is given some of the most powerful lines in the movie, but they're delivered with such woodenness that my disappointment must be made known.
The Other Boleyn Girl could be so much more. As a hyper-dramatic costume flick, it does stand out. There's more than meets your eye, and the costarring performances are not to be missed. There's a lot of material to cover in this story, but a simplified script would have helped keep this film farther away from melodrama. Especially with a true story as wild as this, there's not a lot that needs to be changed or added to grip the viewer. Any embellishments verge on destroying believability and creating situations we can't relate to.
The Other Boleyn Girl is a compelling film due to the exceptional
performances and the splendid costumes. Additionally, there is simply a
terrific story told about the relationship of Henry VIII and the two
Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary.
Natalie Portman (Anne) and Scarlett Johansson (Mary) are outstanding as characters engaged in both sibling rivalry and sisterly bonding. In the central relationship of the sisters, the film develops the social roles and imposed limitations on women in Tudor England.
One of the film's most moving character portrayals is the mother of the two Boleyn Sisters. In the heartbreaking performance of Kristin Scott Thomas, Elizabeth Boleyn can only watch helplessly as her daughters become pawns of the greedy men (Thomas Boleyn and the Duke of Norfolk), who use the young women much like pimps in order to line their pockets and further their own advancement at court. Another sterling aspect of the film is the portrayal of Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torent), another victim of the men due to the obsessive pursuit of Henry VIII to beget a male heir, leading to his momentous divorce from Katherine and England's break with the church of Rome.
While commentators may point out the omissions of many of the details from the novel by Philippa Gregory, the film is still true to the spirit of the book. It is also a faithful representation of the role of women in Tudor age. The film effectively presents the gender issues from the perspective of many of the remarkable women of the age along with the reminder of the greatest legacy of Anne Boleyn, which was the indirect result of her relationship of Henry VIII. That legacy was the future ruler of England...and also a woman: Elizabeth I.
Overall, the movie is entertaining. I thought the acting was good,
particularly Scarlett Johansson's. The cinematography and editing leave
much to be desired, and the entire movie seems rushed. If you have any
knowledge of Tudor history,you will recognize the many inaccuracies,
but those did not bother me as much as did the fact that important
characters were omitted, undeveloped, or even seemingly forgotten (as
in the case of Mary's husband, William Carey).
There ARE very affecting characters and scenes, but I left the theatre wishing for MORE. The fascinating lives of these people simply cannot be dealt with in a movie that lasts less than two hours.
The Tudors are very chic at the moment. If it isn't "Elizabeth: The
Golden Age" (awful) or the television series, "The Tudors"
(soft-pornographic trash), then it is "The Other Boleyn Girl", the
latest film written by the Oscar nominated screenwriter, Peter Morgan.
After his work on the Golden Globe winning TV film "Longford" and the
Oscar winning (for its lead actors) "The Queen" and "The Last King of
Scotland", his scripts must be in demand by actors across the globe.
Little wonder then that this film attracts a stellar cast, including
Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. So, why is it that
this film, which is filled with great talent and potential, delivers
only satisfaction? This was originally slated for release late last
year, right in the middle of the awards season. Yet, for some reason,
it was moved back. Why this was done is not widely known, but, as the
IMDb had the film listed as completed last autumn, I should think that
the decision was taken that this film would draw more attention outside
of the congested awards season. Watching the film, you are aware of the
ambition and lavish costumes that would draw the gaze of Oscar. But the
film lacks punch, depth and the power to grip you the whole way
That's not to say that it isn't entertaining. Far from it, the film is, for an hour and a quarter, perfectly pleasant, with intrigue, scheming and romance aplenty. A lot of the credit must go to the performances, which range from accomplished to fantastically enjoyable to watch. Natalie Portman is impressive as Anne Boleyn. She ranges from scheming and nasty to genuinely sympathetic. It is her most notable work to date. Scarlett Johansson is fine, but everybody is still waiting for her to realise the potential she showed when she announced herself on the scene in "Lost in Translation" and "The Girl with the Pearl Earring". The supporting cast are a joy to watch. Eric Bana is excellent as Henry VIII, but it is the schemers in the background who provide the best entertainment. David Morrissey is having a lot of fun, whilst Mark Rylance and Kristin Scott Thomas are great as the Boleyn parents.
It is a perfectly bearable watch, but unfulfilling. There's an awful lot crammed into the hour and fifty minutes. As year after year of history is skipped through, the film's focus continually shifts, failing to allow certain characters from gaining appropriate intensity. Henry VIII is not as proactive as he might, or should, be. He is more driven then driving, whilst his first wife, Catherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent), is given very little time on screen, thus sidelining a character which should be a figure of great interest. But your expectations are dashed mainly because the film reaches its climax with half-an-hour to go, with an emotional pinnacle being reached and never again surpassed. A rape scene, which seems to be the start of the culmination, with so many points of interest going on in it, proves to be the end of it. The last thirty minutes, whilst quite stylish, are drawn out and slow, and end with a final scene that can only be described as cheesy.
It's a shame that this film is nothing more than admirable in places. But it is a good film for this time of year (that springtime lull between the quality of Winter and the bombast entertainment of Summer). It is an entertaining and satisfying way to pass an afternoon, but it won't live long in the memory.
Never have I seen an actress take control of a movie as much as Portman
did with Boleyn. She stepped into the role so perfectly and did it was
so much confidence. I could feel her pain and ambition. I started
shaking during her downward spiral and couldn't stop. It was so intense
and heart pounding.
Jim Sturgess also made a huge impression. His part was small but his performance was big. I wished there had been more of the brother.
The costumes also should win something, anything. They were amazing and really stood out.
All in all it was a a pretty good movie. It really grabbed you and kept you in their world for two hours. I would recommend this to anyone who's old enough because there is a lot of adult material.
8 out of 10 stars
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The second half of this movie almost gave me a BLOODY HEART ATTACK! MAN
THAT WAS DISTURBING! Ignore the false advertisements that make this
movie look like a romantic bodice-ripper. One can call it a soap-opera,
but you CANNOT call it a romantic period drama! For those of yous who
don't know your Tudor history don't worry, you don't need too (on
second thought it'll probably be better if you don't know the story),
just treat this as a FICTIONAL eye-opener (and yes, it is extremely
historically incorrect) OKay...disturbing themes and historical
inaccuracies aside, the movie has brilliant acting by it's leads.
Johansson is very capable and believable as Mary (yes, I know...I'm
shocked too), whilst Portman is psychotically intense as Anne (I'll
explain later). The supporting cast is decent, Kristen Scott Thomas is
morally in-tune in the Boleyns' mother and Jim Sturgess is BRILLIANT as
their tragic brother George.
The story on the other hand is WAY too rushed (you can SO CLEARLY tell that sonypictures butchered this movie up...BADLY, thus I'll be waiting for a director's cut indefinitely).
OK...first half of this movie is DULLer than the movie's god-awful cinematography, the audiences' disinterest is NOT helped by Peter Morgan's lazy script. The first half drags and drags....UNTIL the director and writer decides to go all HAPPY TREE FRIENDS on the lead characters (and I don't mean in the bloody fun way either).
Whilst Scarlett Johansson's Mary remains the movie's 'somewhat' moral center....Natalie Portman's Anne goes bloody bizerk (yes, in the crazy psychotic bitch sense)...kudos to her for bringing such intensity and whatever realism she can to the (clearly bias) role, although at points you may what to strangle Anne for her conniving ruthlessness, you nevertheless feel for her (and especially her brother) in the end.
Make no mistake, this is NOT a movie for the soft-hearted, as I explained before the second half contains MANY series of disturbing stomach-wrenching events that will leave you clutching your seat (or packet of Orange TicTac in my case) making the first ELIZABETH movie seem like the most feel-good movie of 1999. SO CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED! All in all, bad direction, awesome acting and melodramatically disturbing story with a beautiful score by Paul Cantelon and gorgeous costumes by Sandy Powell. A would overall give it a generous 7 stars out of 10.
I hope I left this review as spoiler free as possible.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went to watch this movie knowing that even though the historical
figures are real, the story is basically fiction, only Philippa
Gregory's version of the tragedy of Anne Boleyn. Watching this film
with this attitude really helped me enjoy it rather than be upset that
all the historic characters' personalities were so distorted that they
were almost unrecognizable. I suggest anyone else going to see this
movie adopt this attitude too.
Sitting back, I proceeded to enjoy the scenery, the costumes, the beautiful actresses portraying the Boleyn girls and the over the top acting.
It was a fun movie and it moved along quickly. Scarlet Johansson and Natalie Portman were excellent as the Boleyn sisters. Eric Bana played a very conflicted Henry VIII who is continually frustrated by not getting a male heir. Eric Bana was not very good in this movie, I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was the way how the character was written or that he was just not comfortable in the role. He was extremely miscast as King Henry.
The one to watch in this film is Natalie Portman who seems to have a grand time playing the evil, scheming Anne Boleyn.
I am pleased to see that all the women in this film, like Lady Boleyn, Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn and Queen Catherine of Aragon were portrayed as having strong characters and not easily pushed around. Even Mary Boleyn, who seemingly always acquiesce to the wishes of her father and uncle, decided in the end to run off and marry someone who truly loves her.
It's a very entertaining film. Just remember that it's only someone's version of the Tudor history, not the real history, and you won't run into trouble!
This story is not close to being correct. First off, Anne was the
younger sister (born in 1510). Mary was the mistress to King Francis of
France she returned to England with Mary, Queen of France after the
death of the French King Louis She became Henry's lover. She became
pregnant and was married off to William Carey. The King NEVER
acknowledged her child as his. Anne was STILL in France with Queen
Claude. She was never banished to France. She returned to England when
Henry changed allegiances from France to Spain. When Anne returned she
fell in love with Harry Percy (who was NOT betrothed to anyone) It was
a love match. The King saw Anne and became besotted. He had Cardinal
Wolsey separate them and then Percy was married off to Mary Talbot.
Henry adored Anne. He was never anything but generous to her and she
hated him only a little less than she hated The Cardinal Wolsey. She
blamed them for separating her from her love, Harry Percy. The King
pursued her and she refused him, this went on for 6 years. she finally
fell in love with him. They married (after he split from Rome) and were
happy. Elizabeth was born, and Henry changed the Act of Succession to
make Elizabeth his heir. It wasn't until the second death of a
stillborn son that Henry had had enough. The saucy temperament and
sharp tongue he loved in the beginning began to wear on him in the end.
One of the greatest historical quotes is from Anne in the Tower "when I
no longer hated him, he began to hate me"
This is a great story if told correctly. This movie was awful. Anne was not guilty of adultery and the scene with her brother never happened.In fact it was the situation with Mark Smeaton a court musician that caused Anne's downfall. She was accused with him (he was tortured to admit guilt) and with all of Henry's friends from the time he had first met Anne, her brother was thrown in to make sure there was no sympathy for the Queen. Interestingly, even though most of the people hated Anne for what had happened to Katherine, Henry's actions made the people sympathetic to Anne as they did not believe her guilty of what she was accused. Jane Seymour was no longer a secret. I am amazed that such an inaccurate movie would be made and the worst part of this is that in a time when women had little to no power, a young girl changed the face of the world.
By refusing the greatest man in the land..The King. Her end was tragic and not her fault. It was the doing a spoiled and old man who was always looking for the greener grass. The movie was shot horribly and the costumes were seen too often. Katherine of Aragon was not an ugly woman but one worn down by lost children and a philandering husband.
The best movie on this subject was Anne of The Thousand Days. The Tudors on Showtime is good but also rife with historical inaccuracies. Mary was not the saint she was made out to be but a whore who gave everyone everything and asked for nothing. She did live a quite life after the death of her sister.
And her children were honored by Elizabeth I
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