59 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Even worse than the book, if that is possible
, July 17, 2008
This review is from: The Other Boleyn Girl (DVD)
First off, let me say I am not a fan of Philippa Gregory, mainly due to her blatant disregard for history (although she claims to do extensive research for her novels, she uses no primary sources (first rule of historical research = use primary sources) and her secondary sources (which from reading the book, she appears to have only skimmed over) are often outdated or don't stand up to the test of time). I watched the movie mainly to see the costumes (I'm a Tudor period fanatic) and to see if it would be better or worse than the book.
The Tudor period is a fascinating time, and it doesn't need to be changed or altered in order to make it more interesting. There's plenty of love, sex, betrayal, political scheming, etc. so I'm not sure why PG felt the need to completely alter the story so much.
I won't go into all of the historical inaccuracies here, if I did, I would be here all night. Besides, there are many other amazon reviewers who are better-spoken than me and have far more knowledge of the Tudor period than I do (I'm only a student), and they have written some wonderful reviews pointing out errors (head on over to the TOBG book page, or check out forums on IMDB).
My main problem with this movie was that it seemed much more like a TV Movie (Lifetime channel anybody?) than a Hollywood film with well-known, highly-paid actors and actresses. The Henry/Mary relationship was almost non-existent, they have a few sex scenes, but nothing to show that they might have actually cared for one another. Henry and Mary have TWO very short conversations before they sleep together. And this is supposed to be our heroine, who has fallen in love? This is preposterous even to romance novel readers. There is no character development or relationship development between the beginning of Henry and Mary's affair and Mary conceiving. So when Anne comes back and "steals" Henry away from Mary while she is pregnant, do we really feel that bad for Mary? Not really, since we haven't seen anything to show us that Mary is in love (at least in the novel there was an actual emotional relationship, one-dimensional as it was).
The one main thing that *really* put me off of this film was the rape scene with Henry and Anne. Henry certainly was not a wonderful guy, history has clearly shown us this, but is this scene necessary? As far as history goes, Anne held off Henry for many years, so a rape is very unlikely (not to mention she wasn't pregnant when she and Henry married secretly (winter 1532, second ceremony in London January 1533, Elizabeth born Sept 1533)). I'm not really sure if this scene is here to show us that "you'll get what's coming to you" if you act like a shrew, or if it's supposed to make us feel a hint of sympathy for Anne. Yes Henry and Anne's relationship (obviously) fell apart, but it fell apart over a period of years, not months. *SPOILER ALERT* Also, the ending with Mary storming into the castle and grabbing Elizabeth from her caretakers and walking out with her seems pretty preposterous. Henry had gotten rid of Anne, but he still did show regard for his children and made sure they were properly raised. Snatching Elizabeth, especially after the king has warned you he will not tolerate you, your pleas to him, or your family anymore, seems like asking for some major punishment to me. *END SPOILER*
Strangely enough, considering that Ms. Gregory considers herself a "feminist author," the only characters remotely resembling anything feminist was the Boleyn mother, Elizabeth, who encourages her daughters to be well-educated and shows her objection to the Boleyn-Howard males pimping out their daughters for political gain (gains which usually fell to the males), and Katherine of Aragon, who acts honorably and respectably at all times. I don't think these are the characters we are meant to admire, but Anne is made out to be a self-serving, conniving shrew and Mary is too meek and mousy to be likeable.
One major (non-historical) error: Mary is married to William Carey, but midway through the film William Stafford asks her to marry him and leave court with him. Um, what happened to Mary's husband (He died of the sweating sickness, but the film never shows this)?
I was hoping for some great costumes from this film, and I was very disappointed. The fabrics were very modern (some of them looked like 1970s curtains) and seemed very out of place. Natalie Portman basically wore the same version of a dress, just in different colored fabrics, through the majority of the film (same for Scarlett). Tudor fashion is amazing; the costume designers could have shown so much more variety with the costumes. The accents of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson were incredibly bad. Portman's accent seems to have gotten worse from when she did V for Vendetta. Also, at times certain scenes were so dark that I had to readjust the settings on my screen (which I've never had a problem with).
The one positive thing about the film is that they chose to leave out the incest plot-line that was very strongly suggested in the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you?