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Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl: Review

I watched The Other Boleyn Girl after reading Philipa Georgey's wonderful novel with the same title. When the movie ended, I left the theater with mixed feelings. As usual, the novel surpassed the movie with its rich details, vivid portrays of the intrigues of the royal court, and smart dialogues. The movie, on the other hand, crammed the story into a two-hour summary with some major changes in the plot which I am going to point out next.

Warning- spoilers:

The Other Boleyn Girl is about king Henry VIII who was happily married to his Spanish queen, Catherine of Aragon, except for one problem: she could not bear children anymore. As time passed, the king became anxious because he did not have a male heir to the throne.

In the movie, the two Boleyn girls, Mary and Anne were living in the country when they met king Henry for the first time. In the novel, Mary was actually one of royal court ladies serving queen Catherine, and Anne was in the French court serving the French queen.

In the movie, the king noticed Anne first which was not exactly what happened. The king became infatuated with Mary at the beginning. Her power-hungry family jumped at this golden opportunity and encouraged her to lay with the king hoping that she would give him the much- desired male heir.

In the movie, Mary became pregnant, and gave the king a son. In the story, she became pregnant twice and gave birth to a daughter and a son. Everything seemed to work according to plan until the king became dazzled by Anne, a fresh face who joined the British court from France to find herself a husband. Anne with her French sophistication, wit, and charm succeeded in diverting the king's attention. The king could have married Mary and declared her bastard son a legitimate heir, but Anne convinced him that she would give him the son he desired if he married her. The Boleyns did not falter at this change of events as long as one of the Boleyn girls was doing the job.

To be able to divorce his dignified queen and marry Anne, Henry separated himself from the church of England. In an ironic twist of fate, Anne failed to give birth to a boy after becoming a queen herself. The king grew tired of her eventually. Irked by his people's disapproval of Anne and his separation from the church, he wanted to get rid of her. Henry charged Anne with adultery, treason, and incest. Anne was found guilty and was beheaded.

The movie was good, but it had its flaws. Eric Bana was not a great choice for king Henry. I think he is a great actor, but his energy was not channeled correctly for this role. The movie felt disconnected at times, and some events were rushed.

Natalie Portman (Anne) and Scarlett Johansson (Mary) were magnificent. One of the best scenes in the movie was the beheading scene. The way Portman reacted in horror after realizing that she would not be pardoned from the death sentence was amazing.

Here is the trailer of The Other Boleyn Girl:


Anonymous said...

This review is not correct. It states that in the movie Mary gives birth to a girl. In this movie Mary gives birth to a boy.

Lulu said...

Anonymous: Yes, you are right. It was a typo because I meant to write a boy instead of a daughter. If you read later, I said "The king could have married Mary and declared her bastard son a legitimate heir." Sorry for the confusion :)


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