Tonight I dragged my fiance to see The Other Boleyn Girl, the movie based on the book of the same name by Philippa Gregory. Here’s the short, non-spoiler version of the review: it is entertaining. If you like historical fiction, but know little to nothing about this time period, other than the fact that Anne married Henry VIII and lost her head, you will probably quite enjoy this movie. If you have read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, some parts will slightly annoy you, but overall you will probably like it. If you have studied that period in England, or if you have read a lot of historical fiction around that period in England, you will still mostly enjoy it, but be extrememly annoyed by a lot of it. Essentially, the movie seemed to stick with the book where the book most differed from the historical record and veer from the book where the book most stuck with historical record, making for a rather un-historical film. Sure, the basic history’s there, as my fiance pointed out: Anne, Mary, and Henry are all there; it is set in England; Anne dies. If you would like to see some of my specific issues with the movie (and potential spoilers) please click the link to read the rest of this entry. The story was already about power, sex, betrayal, and religion, why bother changing it?
- Thomas Boleyn was a very weak man, at the very least this is untrue to the book, and to most books written about these sisters. Generally he’s fairly crafty.
- The movie shows Boleyn and Howard putting Anne before the King first, and the subbing in Mary when Anne displeases him. Most of the books I’ve read don’t even have Anne in the country when Mary begins her affair with Henry.
- Mary’s daughter Catherine was left out completely
- The casting was all wrong. Stafford is supposed to be this strong, strapping, unimpressed by court life man. The boy who played him would have been better as William Carey. I would have then had the man playing William Carey play Henry Percy, and have Percy play ‘Staff’.
- Wolsey, not Howard, is supposed to be the one to break up the marriage between Anne and Percy, that’s why Anne hates him so much. He was pretty much left out of the movie, however, only mentioned once or twice.
- Anne being sent to France after the bit with Percy. No, she was only sent back to the country. Besides, they insinuated that Henry’s sister Mary was still in France as the Queen/Dowager Queen. For her granddaughter Jane Grey to be close in age to Elizabeth, Mary would need to have been back in England and married to Suffolk long before that. Francois was NOT the new King at the time when Anne was catching Henry’s eye; he had already been King of France and had Mary Boleyn as a mistress before she came back to England and bore Henry children.
- None of the sources I have read show Henry raping Anne the first time they had sex. I know she was pregnant when they were married, but most historical fiction at least shows her deciding that she needs to finally give herself to him in order to keep him satisfied, and give him the final push towards her goal. For more on why on EARTH they would have Henry rape Anne when it doesn’t seem to have happened, read the Literate Housewife’s thoughts.
- The movie never showed that William Carey died. He was just there, then later he wasn’t, and Mary just went off and lived with Stafford in the country, no mention of what happened to Carey.
- Anne’s arrest. The woman wasn’t arrest privately in the room with Henry, she was arrested during/after the May Day joust. Why even change that? Reality is so much more dramatic.
- Mary taking little Elizabeth back with her to the country to live with her, Staff, and her/their children. It didn’t happen and it would NEVER have been allowed. Yes, Elizabeth was sent off for much of her life to live in the country with her household. But she didn’t live with Mary and in fact, I would think that Mary (or any of Anne’s close relations would be just about the last person Henry would want her to be around).
Buy the book on Amazon: The Other Boleyn Girl