The Other Boleyn Girl (TV Movie 2003) Poster

(2003 TV Movie)

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Television Should Always Be So Compelling!
sydneypatrick11 April 2003
Contrary to what the other reviewer here states, this was not meant to be a sweeping vision of history. It was clearly meant as a chamber piece - a chick flick of dark proportions.

While this production does not begin to embrace the scope of Anne's criminal nature, or the greater national ramifications that became of her union with Henry VIII, it doesn't aim to. What it does do, however, is paint a poignant portrait of what it was to be a woman in the 16th century, and how ruthless those days in court were.

I'm a fan of the novel this is based on and am hugely thrilled by this adaptation. It is bold and striking and the lead performance by Jodhi May is one of the most compelling I have ever seen anywhere. It should certainly act as her calling card to producers everywhere that she is more than ready to make the transition from ingenue to adult role. By this performance, I'd say she made the leap long ago.

Jared Harris turns in a dead on performance as the Tudor king who became a tyrant and not the least bit because of his union with Anne Boleyn. The rest in the cast paled in comparison to these two, but that does not mean they turned in poor performances. To the contrary, this was a top notch production I wish greater American audiences could see.

The only glitch for me was toward the end when there is video footage of modern day England, tourists at the Tower of London. I don't get it. But I can forgive one small moment in light of the greater ambition and success of this project.

Period drama should always be so delicious!
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A stylish, unusual and absorbing TV movie
princess_stomper26 July 2004
The ever-dependable Steven Mackintosh and Natascha McElhone turned in solid performances to back up Jodhi May's powerful portrayal of the Tudor monarch. Jared Harris' Henry VIII managed to be sympathetic, seductive and tyrannical in turn. The unusual talking-to-camera, reality TV-style direction was a feature that really ought not to have worked but somehow did. As a depiction of the ruthless politics and intrigue of the medieval court, the movie succeeded very well. One word said out of place and heads, quite literally, would roll. A historical film could be said to be good if it increases interest in its subject matter. This fascinating and complex story is sufficient to have the laziest viewer reaching for the history books by the time the closing credits appear.
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sapphogrlu25 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was included in the Six Wives of Henry VIII BBC miniseries DVD. I loved those six movies. They were well-acted, well-scripted, and historically accurate. I did actually read Gregory's book and liked it well enough despite it's HUGE historical inaccuracies (I mean the whole fake homosexual angle with George Boleyn in particular), but this movie didn't even mention that. That angle was one of the pivotal points of the book.

Above all this movie just leaves me asking "WHY?" Why do we see, as someone else aptly put, "The Real World: Tudor England"? Why are the camera angles so bad in general?

Why is the script so bad? I mean, I know it was improv, but come on! The actors at time stutter and stammer over their lines and it's obvious that they're making them up as they go along.

Why are the sex scenes so awkward? The way they were done in the book made them at least somewhat interesting. In the movie they're just bad, verging on being absolutely hilarious. At one point, the actress playing Mary Boleyn was having sex with the actor playing Henry VIII. He's thrusting away and she's got this look on her face that says "Hm....I need to go to the store. Is he done yet? Maybe if he finishes I can go pick up some cheese real quick..." It's just bad.

Why does Catherine of Aragon play such a small role in this movie? Her refusal to get a divorce was one of the leading causes for the scandal that rocked Christiandom. She's the reason why Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn couldn't get immediately married. Why is she not present here? Over all, this movie is just bad.
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Very bad adaptation
chips763091 July 2009
I am not a fan of the original book but was expecting to see a better adaptation than the Natalie Portman movie, which I found awful. This version is even worse.

First, there is very little of Ms. Gregory's book in this script. The whole subplot of George Boleyn's sexuality is completely eliminated and in this version George is merely a flunky shuttling between his duty to the Boleyn family and his duty to the King. I thought the title of the book referred to Mary as the lesser-known of the Boleyn sisters, but here it is used to refer to Anne.

Second, the script has the characters periodically address the audience as if in confession. Apparently this is intended to give a bit of back story and explain their motives, but it is amateurish in execution.

On top of the bad script, the direction is stunningly bad. There are too many shots done with a circling camera which is none-too-steady at best and downright shaky at worst. Several of the speeches are delivered tentatively, as if in a first rehearsal. The production values for Henry's flamboyant court are minimal. The costumes vary: some are copies of historical portraits and others are from some costume designer's fevered imagination. And the King, the source of all power and favors, is often shown ALONE. No fawning courtiers, no servants in the background - where are all the people?? I am accustomed to Hollywood turning history into fantasy, but I expected better from a BBC production. Even based on a flawed book this production is BAD.
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Entertaining, but not accurate
inamourada_flux23 November 2004
If you're looking for historical accuracy, this is not the place to find it. Although entertaining, the plot (amongst other things), is flawed. In the novel, Philippa Gregory seems to portray Anne Boleyn as a bit of a ruthless strumpet with no brains, and Mary appears as some kind of angelic victim, where history states the opposite.

However, it is supposed to be a romantic fiction, and this is achieved well in the TV adaptation.

Jodhi May portrays Anne as passionate and strong-willed - overall an excellent performance. Natasha McElhone's meek representation of Mary certainly gives her credit as a fantastic actress.

Jared Harris plays Henry, and to be honest I wasn't convinced (then again, Keith Michell is the only man I can picture as the king, so I may be somewhat biased). Harris just didn't seem as harsh and regal as I imagine Henry to have been.

I was very impressed by Steven Mackintosh's depiction of Anne and Mary's brother, George Boleyn. His performance during the scene where Anne and Mary are trying to convince him into incest is especially worth seeing, and this really 'brought the character to life' for me, as I never really pondered on his influence before.

What 'The Other Boleyn Girl' does succeed in, is portraying the Boleyn family's ambitious attempts in using Anne and Mary as pawns to grasp the crown, thus obtaining social power via the favour of the King.

Though it seems to tone down the Tudor court in appearance (the costumes are unrealistically plain), this adaptation certainly gives you an idea of the malevolence during the court at the time.

Overall, a nice film to watch. I wouldn't recommend it to history nuts who are likely to complain at the inaccuracy, but it is enjoyable, and well worth watching nonetheless.
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This is a film worth wile seeing. But don't expect to see a conventional historical epic.
pulp15022 January 2004
I have mixed feelings about this film. I appreciated the use of color, it represents the harshness of the time. It's a nice change to see a period piece that's not glamorous. I can imagine it's tempting to make the good looking cast even better looking. The confessions in the camera I didn't understand. I do understand it was an

attempt to make it more intimate. But I don't think it workout that well here. I consider it to modern. It works in comedy like 'the private life of Samuel Pepys'. There it was brilliant. Maybe they could've used a confession setting for these scene's instead of putting them into a room speaking to the camera. And used

more close-ups instead of medium shots. That would make it more intimate and


The acting is superb! I enjoyed to see Jodhi May paying a wicked woman for a

change. She portrayed Anne Boleyn very good Her sick and cruel pleasure to

torture her family by for example trying to marry of her sister to a fat ugly man. Her frightening ambition and abuse of power is portrayed brilliantly.

The actor who played Henry and the actress who played Mary were also

brilliant. The rest of the cast were very complementary to the leading ladies and man.

Very good.

This is not a story about one person. It's about relations between people. This movie explains why Mary survived.

This is really a film worth wile seeing. But don't expect to see a conventional historical epic.

Voted 8

  • A-M ---- English is not my first language so please excuse my spelling and grammar

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See THIS one - NOT the new Hollywood remake!
catflap3 March 2008
An extraordinary tale of sex, passion and royal intrigue, this is the little-known story of Mary Boleyn, who was mistress to King Henry VIII before he married her sister, Anne. Set during one of the most notorious periods in British regal history, at its heart is the relationship between two rivals - the Boleyn sisters. Starring Jodhi May, Natascha McElhone, Jared Harris and Steven Mackintosh.

If you want superb acting quality together with historical accuracy, this is the one to see.

If you prefer an over-rated, second-class, Americanized remake then go for the Hollywood fluff version. This one will be over your head.
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Tudor Court as 'Big Brother'
wpc222 October 2004
Some strong performances, but with some irritating features. The hand-held camera effects - a bit like 'This Life', I felt, with lots of cutting back and forth - and then asides to camera as though Anne and Mary Boleyn were nipping off to the 'Big Brother' Diary room.

A more important flaw was the lack of development of the religious or political themes - these were seen as background to purely personal conflicts - and, other than early in the film when the Boleyn family are shown discussing how to maintain influence at court - not the driving force behind events.

The 'break with Rome' - for example - is mentioned in passing by Anne in a 'Diary Room' episode as though it is about as significant as next week's BB evictions, rather than as a defining episode in European history.
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The Original Other Boleyn Girl
oziehn23 February 2008
I disagree entirely with the comments posted here! This film is a real gem and so much more sophisticated than the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster of the same name. It was obviously shot on a shoestring budget, but is somehow all the better for it. There is no hiding behind sumptuous sets and lavish costumes; it is almost as if the actors have been captured in rehearsal - so spare is the make-up and plain are the clothes, all of which gives the film a raw, gritty 'reality' that feels exciting and immediate. The story and script zips along. The performances are visceral. This looks like something you'd see at Sundance. All in all a 10 out of 10 movie - albeit low budget and made for TV. Why can't Hollywood with all its money and talent produce something this cool? Is the DVD out yet? Definitely one for the collection!
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interesting twist on the Boleyn story
didi-53 January 2008
From Philippa Gregory's novel, 'The Other Boleyn Girl' does not pretend to be a historical record but explores some themes and basic facts concerning the Boleyn girls, Mary and Anne, and their relationship with Henry VIII of England.

This adaptation has the benefit of strong casting - Natasha McElhone and Jodhi May as the girls, Steven Mackintosh as their brother, Jared Harris as the King, Jack Shepherd and John Woodvine as the scheming elder Boleyns, seeing a chance to get their influence felt through sexual power over the King. This angle is well drawn, showing the girls as pawns in a power game. Smaller parts are equally well cast, including Philip Glenister as Stafford and Ron Cook as Cromwell.

Shot in a modern style - Mary and Anne talk to the camera as if in a reality show - this drama is compelling if not necessarily accurate.
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Not even close to the truth
glenn-1252 August 2005
This movie twists the facts of Anne and Mary's lives into something unrecognizable. To make Mary Boleyn, who in fact was a rather dim and foolish creature, and make her the "good" sister is just silly. It is Anne who was in fact the far more interesting character, and that is why it is her life, and not Mary's, that has been told so often.

In response to an earlier review, I fail to see how Anne's life was so "criminal"... to me it's Henry who was the real criminal. Whatever Anne's motives for winning the king and withholding her affections in order to gain a crown and husband has to be taken into context of the time in which these real-life events took place. Anne, in comparison to the majority of most of the courtiers in her time, was a relatively innocent figure. Most modern historians discount or have disproven most of the myths and slanders that this movie perpetuate about her, and I have never heard of anyone who actually believes the rumour than she slept with her brother. This movie is so sensational and false that it is maddening to think that someone, without knowing anything about this period in history, could walk away believing anything this movie has presented as "fact".

I won't even get into the weird filming of the movie... but I'm pretty sure that cameras weren't invented in the 16th century, so I don't understand why Anne and Mary are talking to one throughout the movie... it's a really bad plot devise and is jarring and annoying, to put it mildly.

Anne of the Thousand Days is not accurate either, but is infinitely more entertaining and at least comes closer to telling the story of one of the most intriguing women of history. Don't even think about renting this.. it's two hours you'll never get back!
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A disappointing stab at a good book
jeff-slater2 October 2004
I realize a period piece is expensive to make, and that this style of shooting (close framed shots to camera, moving camera, wide aperture shots, washed-out) allows such films to be made for a price. As a style, it has advantages and disadvantages like any other, it allows more period pieces to be made. Like any style it has its detractors and supporters - there are probably even those that believe that this manner of shooting has an artistic basis.

If only some of the money saved, could have been spent on the script for whatever style is used, a film needs good writing and good acting.

The acting in this film is mostly very good. The writing less so. It is composed of a collection of bits taken from the book and much which is relevant to the plot is left out making for a disjointed collection of scenes with little or no continuity.

If you have read the book, do not under any circumstances watch it. If you have not read the book, are easily pleased and have nothing better to do there is no harm in watching it, but be prepared to be disappointed.

It could have been so much better.
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movielamour11 April 2003
If this sets the new direction for period dramas, then I'm all for it!

Gone are the stuffy mannerisms and cookie-cutter direction. In comes a new era of BBC costume drama, even with the oh, so familiar face of Jodhi May. MY how we've never seen her in just this way before! Heaving bosoms and lustful swaggers and I was HOOKED in the first fifteen minutes! I SO HOPE it is released to DVD!!!

The story of Anne Boleyn is known far and wide, but I don't think it's ever been told from the perspective of what it must have been like to be a young woman in those ruthless times. And Anne was ruthless, there's no doubt about it. However, the beauty of this production is that it sheds light on *why* she maneuvered herself the way she did. The mother of England's greatest queen, Elizabeth I, had to have a lot of chutzpah to not only gain the king's favor, but keep it - and his sexual desires - at bay for years before bagging him and the crown as her own. This adaptation really makes one wonder what the country would have been like had she only managed to bear a male heir, and hence, keep her head.

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nothing like book
laltp18 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
i was lucky enough to read the book beforehand and i do know a little about Tudor england.

the writing directing and editing of this TV movie for the most part was truly awful. i felt as if i was watching a really bad drama doc about the period rater then a movie.

first there were too many cut's between important parts. And leaving out important events which happened at the time, one is henry's fall out with Rome over his desire to divorce Katherine of aragon which led to england's breaking away from Rome and establishing her own church. they barely stuck to the book at all. i'm all for creative freedom but to a limit, especially when your dealing with a well written book as your starter point. in the book Mary give's birth to young Catherine first and then she has young Henry is born. Both their father is Henry's the eight. in the movie they show harry's first then Catherine. And suggest that Catherine father is William Carey.

there are too many bad moment's in the movie to write them all.

i will however say that Jodhi May and Natascha McElhone portrayal as the Boleyn sisters was probably the best part of the movie.

if you haven't read the book and know nothing about Hennry's the 8 court i will recommend to stay away from this movie. And for those who read the book the movie will annoy you for it's lack of details and important plot's.
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Don't expect the book, you'll be disappointed
Liza-1927 November 2006
The Other Boleyn Girl - not to be confused with the book it claims to be based upon. This movie is not even close to a faithful adaptation. I could understand them changing or elaborating on a few things. The book is not perfection, but it was well-written and became very popular. I could understand if the BBC wanted to make this a little more faithful to what actually happened, who Anne Boleyn really was - but it's not even close to being historically accurate either. It's just fluff. Mindless, made-up fluff. A real shame.

To begin with, the writer and director seemed to think it was a good idea to setup the story like it was a reality TV show. Seriously. They have the Boleyns sitting in front of the camera, confessing how they REALLY feel about what's happening in their lives. Anne Boleyn sits in a confessional (not the church kind, the Real World kind) and chooses what she wants to tell and what she wants to just sit and smile about. She looks stupid having to use such a modern cinematic device in a film set in the 1500s. It's "The Real World: Tudor England!"

Jodhi May is a very good actress and after 'The Aristocrats' and 'A Turn of the Screw' I was becoming a real fan of hers. But she should never have been cast as Anne. Actually I think she would have been a better Mary. Natascha McElhone was a poor choice. She's a good actress, sure, but she has very modern features and does not appear convincing in period costume. (Honestly, I spent the first half of the film trying to figure out if she was "that girl" from 'The Truman Show.' She was.) She's also too old to play the teen-aged Mary so for some unknown reason they made Mary the oldest of the sisters. It makes no sense, I know. It's like the BBC seemed to forget that these people actually lived. They're twisting the story around and making things up left and right. I feel ridiculous having to correct the BBC on historical inaccuracies, but REALLY!

Apart from the two sisters the rest of the cast was actually very well chosen. Steven Mackintosh struck me as a brilliant choice for George, and his casting was the real reason I decided to seek out this movie. Big mistake. He does a great job, sure, but he's hardly in this. How can anyone pretend they're adapting The Other Boleyn Girl and hardly mention George Boleyn? That's just absurd. Philip Glenister was another very good casting decision, but yet again, was hardly in the finished product.

The real problem with this is the script. There's just no getting around that. It's bad. It's really, really bad. It's too melodramatic and not engaging. Anne is portrayed as an air-head, Mary as the ringleader, and George as the follower. Mary's first husband is hardly mentioned, her relationship with the king is never explained - they simply do not tell the story Phillippa Gregory wrote. The whole thing comes across as a great big waste. I have no desire to see this thing a second time. I guess I'll just have to read the book again and hope that the Natalie Portman version due out next year will be much better.

*Note: As of this writing, the only way of obtaining this miniseries in the USA is on the last disc of the miniseries 'The Six Wives of Henry VIII.' That's a great miniseries but can cost $50 to $60 and that's way to much to spend if you're just looking for this piece of garbage.
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Huge disservice to the book.
MsKris13 February 2004
I'm still amazed that they were able to take such fascinating subject matter and turn out such a dull, miscast and disjointed feature. Switching the ages of the two main female characters didn't help, either. On the plus side, it was enjoyable to see Jared Harris apparently channeling his late father for his role of Henry VIII.

Skip the movie, read the book.
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The Bolyn Sisters
arleenm1740-55-49937313 June 2018
I am still watching the show, but am disappointed in the women who play the Bolyn sisters. I can't believe King Henry would fall in love with women who are, well sorry, but a bit homely. It's a bit slow moving and as I have watched many a show on this subject, can't help but feel it could have been done much better. Do not mind the hand held camera, and low budget, I believe that is always a good idea!
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not daring to go far enough
dromasca25 July 2008
The way it starts this TV version of 'The Other Boleyn Girl' promises to be an interesting viewing. The two Boleyn sisters speak to the camera like in some kind of a modern documentary, or maybe they just confess to their priest? Quick paced editing gives pace and launches well the first scenes setting the action. The view of the Henry VIII and of his relationships is different and original - Henry is softer than the traditional view, less of a serial womanizer but rather a man seeking for tenderness and continuity of his dynasty. The Boleyn clan is seen as involved in a 16th century clans fight for influence. An of course, the two Boleyn women in the middle, the love aspiring and more mature Mary and the ambitious but eventually vulnerable Ann.

Unfortunately the good beginning is not continued at the same rhythm and in the same style. Too soon the film falls back into the good BBC default of historical drama, characterized by good acting driving through kind of a classic Shakespearian intrigue labyrinth, with conservative camera and standard color processing work. When the final scene tries to close back the circle it is too late, the spell is gone and so is - for long already - the interest of viewers who are not hard fans of BBC dramas. This movie is not bad, but it could have been much more and could have overcome the limits of its own genre.
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Historical Mustsee
sexy_pisces_gal1 July 2005
Henry VIII fans will not be disappointed in the fantastic yet unorthodox film from Phillipa Lawthorpe. Based on the book by Phillipa Gregory, the other Boleyn girl stars Natascha McElhelone as Mary Boleyn, the eldest sister of George and Anne Boleyn. Returning to court a newly and happily married woman the beautifully Mary soon catches the attention of the womanising King (Jared Harris). Pushed into his bed by her conniving and scheming family Mary sinks into a depression as her marriage begins to founder and she begins to grow strong feelings of affection for the king. When Mary falls pregnant the Boleyn family panic as they realise the power and influence other presently hold over the king will desert them should her find love with another. They scheme with their son George (Steven Mackintosh) a close confident and courtier of the King to introduce him to the equally beautiful but less quiet Anne (Jodhi May). Anne however has no desire to become the Kings mistress and be discarded just like her sister but as Henrys passion for Anne grows his feelings for Mary disappears and he drops her along with her newborn son. With Mary gone and with his marriage increasingly ever failing Anne makes the King realise that she can give him the son he desires and be the wife he has not had. But as the royal divorce looms and Mary returns to court to attend to her sister, who herself is waiting to marry the King, trouble is brewing that threatens her plans and puts them into jeopardy. Against the wishes of his people and ministers Henry and Anne marry amidst a storm of public disapproval and hatred but again only a daughter is born of their union. The Boleyns observe that the king is fast losing interest in Anne and learns her life is at stake and the King begins to find affection in the young and pretty Jane Seymour. A terrified Anne and the family go to extreme measure s to bear the king a son and to save her head. This film portrays Henry not as a vicious tyrant but as a lovesick child who seems desperate to find the right woman rather then gain a son. Although Anne Boleyn was charged with treason and incest along with her brother George these charges were always considered trumped up but Lowthorpe offers a different insight suggesting Anne made love to her brother and in time he made her pregnant. Rich in history accuracies this film is a must see for all Tudor history lovers.
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Magical, dynamic, experimental
s-brand30 May 2007
I absolutely loved this film. I had not heard the story, so was first of all blown away by this. Secondly, I loved the director's (Lowthorpe's) imaginative and modern approach to filming and editing. It would have been so easy to do a traditional TV drama piece: wide shot, medium shot, close up for the emotion. I felt I was there and using a modern idiom in the style made the drama and intrigue so modern, so 'now' for me. I remember the first films I saw of hers, it was a period piece set in a railway station. The director had not asked the modern dressed travelers to leave. It was so refreshing. Drama has to cross centuries for us to engage and that is what Lowthorpe is doing for me in her work.
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Not THE Other Boleyn Girl: Possible Spoilers Warning: Spoilers
This is a 2003 TV version of Phillipa Gregory's novel, not the star- studded 2008 movie, but it is interesting nonetheless. Mary (Natasha McElhone) is elder sister to Anne (Jodhi May) and, under pressure from her family, unwillingly precedes Anne as mistress to King Henry VIII (Jared Harris). The King loses interest in Mary when she becomes pregnant with Henry's only son and he then presses his affections on Anne. Anne's strategy is to sustain Henry's eagerness by declining to have sex with him but, when she fears he may turn elsewhere, she gives in and thus provides one element of the pretext for her ultimate beheading.

Although Anne produces a daughter, afterward Queen Elizabeth I, Henry must have a son to secure the succession. He makes clear his displeasure with Anne for failing to give him one, beginning this flirtation with Jane Seymour. Ultimately, feeling she has no choice in the matter, Anne asks her brother to lie with her, which he does reluctantly. Eventually, her brother and other courtiers are accused of adultery with the Queen and executed in advance of her execution. Mary at last finds happiness with a common soldier and farmer who had befriended her while at court, the only satisfactory and satisfied human being in the entire story.

Natasha McElhone bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Emma Thompson. Jodhi May, on the other hand, is quite a plain Anne Boleyn, though her cleavage has been much enhanced.

Apparently, there is some, though not conclusive, evidence, to support Ms. Gregory's version of history. And BBC has done justice to the convoluted tale with the able intercession of Phillipa Lowthorpe, the director.

One can't help wondering why, with bastardy not so unusual, Henry VIII should not have taken some interest in his only son, conferring on him some ranking and estate as was frequently done in other cases. Perhaps he really was the self-centered SOB that has been handed down to us through history.
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