I watched the movie The Other Boleyn Girl on TV last night. It tries to portray Anne Boleyn as a manipulative, scheming character, but the problem is she’s actually one of the most sympathetic character in the movie. I think the overall point was about how terrible and unfair the aristocratic system of politics-by-who-marries-whom, but since Anne is a prominent victim of that, it’s odd to make her an unlikeable character.
The performances were quite good, but the characters felt empty, especially the personality-free Mary Boleyn. My thought was “well, no wonder she’s ‘the other Boleyn girl’–she’s not as interesting! So, why do we care about her again?”
I’ll admit that I’ve never been terribly gripped by the that period in history–not sure why. I think it’s because almost every man seems to have been named “Henry” or “Thomas”, which makes things hard to follow. You have Henry the VIII, who had issues with the Church, and because of it was at odds with Sir Thomas More, and then you have Henry II, who also had issues with the Church and because of it was at odds with Thomas Becket. It’s easy to get confused.
Anyway, back to the this movie. It’s weird because on the one hand I guess it’s for people who find that period in history romantic or something, but simultaneously the point of the movie seems to be that it was a terrible time, when everybody had to do bad things to get ahead. It was a movie for people who like “Merrie Olde England”, only it condemns that as a brutal period.
It doesn’t examine any of the characters in depth, the way, say A Man for All Seasons does with Sir Thomas More. It’s just an empty period costume drama. (Speaking of costumes–what is up with these shoulder pads?) It’s based on a book by Philippa Gregory, which I have not read but which apparently has issues with historical accuracy.