Monday, January 19, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl

King Henry VIII is quite a famous figure in European History. In fact, he is so popular that there have been many incarnations of him on both the large and small screens. Now I hate to burst people’s bubbles, but he did more than kill a bunch of wives and father two queens of England.
However, that is usually the only thing that most people remember about him. Phillippa Gregory certainly did not shy away from this when she wrote the The Other Boleyn Girl. In this story there are two sisters who are both vying for the affections of the still married King of England, one out of genuine love for the king and the other out of a hope to achieve the highest position that she and her family can obtain. The names of these sisters are Mary and Anne Boleyn. This story became quite the best seller and naturally was adapted for a movie version.
I watched this movie begrudgingly. As a historian I hate to see history being butchered and simplified because the writers are afraid that the actual events won’t captivate their audiences, but that is a rant for another day. Now this movie wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t necessarily a piece of cinematic genius either. It was somewhat entertaining and had pretty costumes, but the praises kind of end there.
Let me tell you what one of my biggest problems with the movie was. In this story Mary Boleyn is 14 years old, which considering how she is traded by her family and husband for advancement makes me throw up a little. Now the wonderful people who brought us this film decide to hire Scarlett Johansson to play her. WTF!!!!!!! I understand that Hollywood doesn’t always hire actresses who are the same age as their character, but c’mon someone in their early twenties portraying someone in their early teens, is a bit much. I am in no way saying that she is not a good actress, but she was very miscast in this role. To play someone that is incredibly young may be a job for a younger actress, but that is of course only if they want the movie to be credible.
Natalie Portman, as Anne Boleyn, portrays the calculating older sister who is also angling for the Kings attention. She does a good job at portraying a backstabbing witch, and looks younger than Johansson, which was also a mistake in casting. But at this point the directors were probably mostly thinking of how much star power they could get into this movie.
There really weren’t any other standout performances in this film. However, as someone who has always loved the clothing of that period, the costumes were lovely. But really isn’t it a bad sign when the costumes are the biggest plus of a movie, not the plot, or acting? As I said before, this wasn’t a terrible movie and does have the potential to be slightly entertaining, but I feel that it would a denial of who I am to give the movie anything above a 4.

8 comments:

Moshe Reuveni said...

I wonder how many of the casting decisions were made by the director and how many by the producers/studio/whatever-party-stands-to-make-money-out-of-this-film. The film "The TV Set" talks about that exact process.

jbodster said...

Ugh, it's all about sex appeal and that's it. Please point out the similarities between Eric Bana and portraits of Henry VIII... oh right, there are none.

Your Racist Friend said...

Did you read the book, Stormy? I talked to quite a few people who loved the novel, and abhorred the film.

Particle Man said...

not that i'm justifying the casting choice, but let's say they got a teenager to to play Mary Bolelyn. now picture her flirting and having sex with Eric Bana. just think about it.

now that you're done vomiting, let me just say that the reason that's revolting is that the history behind it is revolting. that whole Anne Boleyn thing was downright icky, and it's made even more icky by the fact that it actually happened. but the book (unread by me) is supposedly not icky at all. it's just trashy and base, and reduces the history down to a soap opera of who's sleeping with who. thast's just my impression of the book; someone who's actually read it is welcome to prove me wrong.

Stormy Pinkness said...

I did read part of the book, but it became so trashy and soap opera-ish that I had to stop. I just couldn't stand seeing that done to history. AND History is has enough drama without adding to it.

Your Racist Friend said...

So you're opposed to historical fiction?

Stormy Pinkness said...

No, some of it is actually good. I just don't see the need for it personally. I find History to be one big story with many interesting subplots.

CmdLuke said...

I think the problem you are running into is that not everyone views history the way you do, and therefore need to have it embellished to make it interesting to them.