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the other boleyn girl The Other Boleyn Girl
Directed by:
Justin Chadwick
Cast: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

March 27, 2008


First, let’s get the history right.  Henry VIII was one of the most repellent monarchs of England, perhaps only surpassed by his mad pathetic daughter Mary. 

Henry was a fat lecherous and extremely cruel slob who murdered many innocent nuns, monks and priests in his lust for women and for the gold of the monasteries and convents.  In fact, during his rule over 70,000 Englishmen were executed.  A figure not matched before or after in the History of England.   In no way, did he resemble Eric Bana who tries to portray him as a compassionate and yet a flawed character.  We think Charles Laughton characterization was the epitome of Henry.  He was fat and ugly and about the same age as Henry was at that point in his life. In the early 16th century, England was really a small weak country not much bigger than a European dukedom.  It was no match for France or Spain. The fact that it was an Island had saved it from invasion and dominance of other European powers.

Henry’s father, the stingy penny-pinching miser Henry VII, had managed to steal the English throne from Richard III and had established the dynasty that was based on deceit and torture. 

Henry VIII inherited a kingdom with a full treasury and set about spending it lavishly on wine, women and hunting.   The lifestyle that made him fat with gout and other diseases at a young age and eventually led to his death as a bloated sick old man.

This movie is yet another effort to cash in on the story of Anne Boleyn and her rise to the lofty office of queen of England.

Ann as portrayed in the move as a shrewd calculating woman who has set her sights on becoming the Queen of England. Unlike her sister, Mary she does not surrender her virtue easily and an infatuated King eventually divorces his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and marries her.  However, the failure to produce a male child and the roving eyes of Henry soon doom the marriage.

Natalie Portman has matured with age and her portrayal of Ann was plausible.  She displayed the inner passion of this ambitious woman who stops at nothing to reach her goals.  In the Middle-ages, many people had come to believe the argument advanced by Henry and his courtiers that Ann used witchcraft to seduce the king.  It is true that she had that certain something that some women have and every man who ever met her fell a little in love with her. 

Mary Boleyn, on the other hand was a weak minded girl.  She could not keep her knees together and was easily seduced by the king among others and Scarlett Johansson portrayal of Mary as an anemic and wishy-washy girl is right on the mark. 

However, the prize for the best actor in this movie goes to Mark Rylance as Sir Thomas Boleyn.  His thin scrawny look and dim countenance is a perfect match for the man who pimped and prostituted his daughters to satisfy his needs for worldly goods.  He is the archetype of modern day pimps on Manhattan street corners.   

The real Duke of Norfolk was approximately 60 years old when Ann became a queen, which makes him a very old man for that day and age.  David Morrissey’s performance does not carry the venom of the old man well enough.  After all, the man was sentencing his niece Ann to death at the same time that he was steering another very young teenage niece, a not so innocent Catherine Howard, into Henry’s bed. 

Years ago, Patrick Throughton the English actor played the role of the duke with great finesse in a made for TV miniseries.  The malice of this cowardly treacherous man who among other things used to beat his wife severely and carry on openly with her maids came through so visibly.  Patrick Throughton was so cold and remote and yet venomous that one felt the chill of death whenever he decided to torture and destroy his preys.  That would be a good DVD to rent and enjoy. 

The Duke of Norfolk is probably the man who introduced the torture chambers to the Tower of London.  Before the Tudors, English kings did not usually resort to torture to obtain fake confessions.  He truly was an evil man.  In the modern world he would have probably been diagnosed as a psychopath.   As a matter of interest, the real Duke of Norfolk was sentenced to death along with his son. His son was executed first but Henry VIII died the day before Norfolk’s execution was to take place.  That is what one would call a lucky bastard!  Not only that, but to this day, his descendants live in the immense Arundel Castle in south of England and enjoy the benefits of his wealth.

The director, Justine Chadwick, has mainly been a TV director and it shows.  The scenes are at time disjointed, very similar to TV movies where commercial breaks are needed to be inserted at certain points of the movie.  We do not think he has much talent but given the vast budget for this project, he has made an adequate movie.

The screenplay for this movie was based on a Novel by Phillipa Gregory who has made a fortune by retelling old history and fabricating historical events to satisfy her story line.  However, the story line is generally accurate as movies go.    

In addition, Henry’s vicious temperaments are not displayed in this movie.  He is sympathetically portrayed as a man with inner conflicts and demons.  Well, he had a lot of them and those demons made him execute over 70,000 people.

We give this movie starstar1/2

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