04 April 2008

The other Boleyn girl (mild spoiler alert!)

The other day I went with a friend and my kids to see The other Boleyn girl. I always love a good period drama -- I'm a fantasy writer, after all, and a lot of times I feel fantasy is closer kin to historical fiction than it is to its bedfellow science fiction. And this film put me right there: forests, galloping horses, costumes, castles -- ah, fantasy writer's heaven. And the type of soundtrack I could write to. (But which my husband hates.)

Recently (as in some time in the last six months) the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) ran a miniseries about the Boleyns and Henry XIII, and it was interesting to see how the miniseries differed from the film. One account was it made much more of Mary's happiness in her initial marriage and reluctance to go to the king. This was touched on in the film, quite clearly, but still wasn't as big a deal. OTOH, the movie had a two-hour running time to the TV show's three and a half (or thereabouts). I remember despising her husband for his weakness, feeling much more of her desperation. I suppose he was still portrayed as weak -- his only reaction to the news seemed to be eyes brimming with tears, but his part was over so quickly that I barely noticed.

The incest issue was handled differently too. In one it happened; in the other it didn't. I won't say which is which for those who haven't seen the film. I did wonder though whether I really believed Natalie Portman the more beautiful of the two -- Scarlett Johansson has that exquisite almost ethereal beauty that I can imagine angels having. It's almost otherworldly. She was the girl with the pearl earring, after all! (I'm waiting for the film that pits Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley as sisters, as I think they look alike. And the one with David Tennant and Tom Ward as brothers!) And, of course, beauty *is* in the eye of the beholder, but even so... Anne did, however, have all the fire and temperament that Mary lacked, so that may have added to her attractiveness for some -- not that Mary was meant to be unattractive, but a point was made that Anne was the beautiful one.

My children came away wondering why Anne was, in their words, "such a bitch", so we had a good discussion about ambition and power, but this seemed almost mystifying to them. Ah, how jaded we become as adults.

Would I recommend this film? Yes, to anyone who loves a slower, beautifully shot film. For some it may be too slow, but I really enjoyed it. I just wish there were more films like it on these holidays... Just means I'll have to return to my books -- one that I'm reading is all about the kings and queens of Britain, and there are so many good stories between its covers. Plenty to inspire the fantasy writer within me!


ellen said...

I enjoyed this movie too.

On the subject of Keira Knightley looking like Natalie Portman -- you're not the only one who thinks so! Keira played Queen Amidala's (Natalie's) double/body guard in the phantom menace!

I watched this last night and found it really difficult to recognise KK though. She looks very different. But very like Natalie!

Scribbly said...

Oh, I have to disagree here. I read the book, and I guess that was my spoiler. The film just left me a little cold. Not only did the film leave a lot out - unavoidable when adapting from such a long book - but the filmakers also took a lot of license with the events from the novel.

I did enjoy the costumes, and appreciated that the women weren't made up. This gave the film a more authentic feel.

And Eric Bana... oooh yeah! Forget that he looked NOTHING like Henry VIII. Nobody's going to let a small detail like that get in the way of some good lust, hey?