Monday, April 14, 2008

A Female Perspective of the Other Boleyn Girl

To paraphrase a wonderful quote from one of my favorite movies.. "A lotta Hogs wallop if you ask me"... The Other Boleyn Girl was just that. It took a fascinating time in English history and abbreviated it and then twisted it and made it ludicrous and self-serving. I have to ask "Why Does Hollywood Do That?" because it just makes Americans look stupid and illiterate!

Now I have to admit that English history is not one of my favorite subjects and especially when it deals with the ancestry of the king and queen of England, however, I had heard of Anne Boleyn prior to going to see the movie and was not completely ignorant of her influence on the British court. I have to admit that this movie did compel me to go find out more about her. So to this end I will post some of the facts that I did discover about Anne Boleyn and discuss how this was or was not presented in the movie.

Anne and Mary were basically raised in the service of the Archduchess Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands and aunt of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. They served Mary Tudor, King Henry’s younger sister, when she married King Louis XII of France. After King Louis died, Mary and Anne remained in his widow’s service until she returned to England and married the Earl of Suffolk. The two Boleyn girls then joined the household of Queen Claude, the wife of the new French king Francis I. They did not grow up "on the farm" as was shown in the movie. Mary did not marry a country squire but became a mistress to Francis before becoming King henry's mistress. Anne did secretly plan to marry the Earl of Northumberland but Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey (the king's adviser)considered her below the Earl's station and the king had already expressed the desire to have Anne as a mistress. This dynamic with Wolsley's influence to King Henry and the relationship with Anne as a result of his interference with Anne's nuptials would have made for an interesting aspect of the movie. Instead there was no Wolsley even mentioned in the movie. In the movie, the kind knew nothing about the marriage at all. Anne left to go to stay in a castle that her father owned after this (not at the French court as was shown in the movie)and when she did return to King Henry's court she and the king carried on flirtations for several years. Anne's marriage to King Henry did not end Catherine's involvement in the court and Anne did not just accept the divorce. She still perceived Catherine (the first queen) and her daughter Mary as a threat and is responsible for seeing that they lived apart from each other till Catherine's death. Anne was not a nice woman! While it is guessed that Anne had lovers prior to her marrying Henry it has not been validated. Anne was conspired against in the end by members of the court and she was accused of adultery with 5 other men including her brother. All 5 men admitted to this only after substantial torture. The assumption is that Anne did not have any of these affairs and there is no proof of these acts ever occurring. The movie made it out that Anne and her brother did have an incestuous affair to attempt to help her get pregnant with a third child after the second one had miscarried. All of the evidence I read said that the king knew of the miscarriage and that indeed he got her pregnant a third time. This time the baby was born still born and was a male.

One of the things I really hated about the movie was Eric Bana's role as King Henry. Now Eric Bana is a very talented actor. He has been known to add grit and personality into characters that might otherwise have none. So here he is the king of England and he falls off his horse chasing a young girl into a berry thicket???? Also, according to Wikipedia, Henry was a Renaissance Man and his court was a center of scholarly and artistic innovation and glamorous excess. He was an accomplished musician, author, and poet. He was also known to have been an avid gambler and dice player. He excelled at sports, especially jousting, hunting, and tennis. The king was also known for his strong dedication to the Christian faith. The movie did not even explore these characteristics for Henry. He was as one dimensional of a character as a cardboard cutout. I found it appalling that the king responsible for the breaking from Rome and the creation of the Church of England could be portrayed as such a weak man that all of his decisions and his acts as a king could be so controlled by one woman (namely Anne Boleyn).

So in case you have not guessed.. this movie rated a Why Bother from me. I hate it when movies resort to gratuitous sex in order to save the movie and when The Other Boleyn Girl delved into a titular incestuous relationship between Anne and her brother so Anne could conceive a third child?? Well I have to admit that did me in and I left without seeing the rest of the movie. I have to admit this one was one I was looking forward to and one i bitterly resented being disappointed by!

Why Bother?

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