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Customer Review

59 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 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sources) and her secondary sources (which from reading the book, she appears to have only skimmed over) are often outdated or don't stand up to the test of time).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.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 8, 2009 10:50:04 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 8, 2009 11:01:12 PM PDT
BookBuff9293 says:
"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)." So true!

Your review is SPOT ON! I was going to write one myself, but no need to now; you've voiced all my sentiments. I would like to add, though, that I think Jim Sturgess (George Boleyn) made a creditable performance, superior to any other actor's in the film. And he was the only one for whom I felt much sympathy.

And you're right! This movie is 100% Lifetime material, but, I must say, I found the movie entertaining. Perhaps because my expectations weren't high, I wasn't irritated by the historical inaccuracies, and, not to mention, all the low quality film elements (the costumes and script come to mind).

And I agree all the way about the rape scene. It was entirely disturbing and uncalled for. It added nothing to the film. It's as though the producers just wanted to shock us.

I thought the EXACT same thing about the costumes--Mary and Anne's matching dresses are carbon copies of '70s curtains.

True, it's good the incest plot was left out. Phillipa made Anne and George out to be very physically attracted to each other and terribly eager to go with Anne's plan.

Posted on Aug 8, 2009 11:03:42 PM PDT
BookBuff9293 says:
I don't understand why more fans of Phillipa's book aren't frowning upon the movie, because the movie hardly aligns with the book. So much is left out; the girls aren't even the proper ages.

Posted on Oct 31, 2011 12:02:43 PM PDT
I never read the book. But this movie was terrible!! The only good part was that Henry The 8th was a hot king in this movie. But overall this movie was the worst movie I've ever seen!!! It had so many historical inaccuracies that you can cut it with a knife. I wrote a bad review on Amazon about this film as well. the title of the bad review is, "Hey At Least They'res A Hot King," and its a one star review. I hope you think its helpful.

Posted on May 15, 2012 6:22:24 PM PDT
P. Carroll says:
I'm sorry, did you even read the book? I just put it down for the second time and I cannot recall any of the moments you are discussing. Phillipa never wrote about Henry raped Anne nor did she mention Mary storming the castle for Elizabeth. Furthermore she barely mentioned their mother and when she did it was how she only cared for the girls when they were successful.

I agree the movie is horrible. It did not follow the book at all! But to write a review bashing the book and its author with arguments that aren't accurate is ridiculous.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 18, 2013 2:46:31 PM PST
Conor Byrne says:
Excuse me. But I'm questioning whether you ever read the book if you claim that Gregory never mentioned Anne's mother and when she said portrayed her as caring. She was not. She was depicted as cruel, ruthless, spiteful - she tells Anne she'd rather see her dead at her feet in 1523 when she 'marries' Percy (which she never did) - and as ambitious as Norfolk - see the summer of 1526 chapter in the book, and her attitude to Mary, if you don't believe me.

Gregory fans need to learn that her books are awful towards historical personages. Yes the rape was never in the book but Anne was a murderess, adultress, poisoner and bully in the book, which is far worse. If people honestly think the real Queen Anne was like that, then Gregory's mission to further blacken this noble queen's reputation is complete.

Posted on Mar 9, 2013 12:24:55 PM PST
I agree with you. Awful movie.
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