The Other Boleyn Girl on DVD

The Other Boleyn Girl on DVD. Based on the 2001 historical novel of the same name by Philippa Gregory, this film depicting the rise and fall of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, succeeds in many ways, but is not without flaws. The depiction of noble daughters being used as political pawns, sometimes willingly as is the case with the ambitious Anne, but more often not. Also well portrayed is Henry’s overwhelming desire to have a male heir to the throne and how it affected his relations with women, the church, and his advisors. Although Natalie Portman (Anne), Scarlett Johansson (Mary Boleyn), and Eric Bana (Henry) give fine performances as the lead characters, I was most impressed with Kristin Scott Thomas as the Boleyn matriarch whose protestations against the whoring out of her daughters for political gain by her brother, Duke of Norfolk, go unheeded. The settings and costumes are lush and the use of modern language for the dialogue is not a problem.

Unlike Henry with Anne, we will pardon the filmmakers’ numerous errors in historical accuracy and compression of time for the sake of dramatic art as most of the major points regarding the love triangle are true enough. However, some of the director’s choices left me wanting more explanation. Rarely will I argue that a film should have been longer, but in this case, I will propose just that. Some of the deleted scenes (available as a bonus feature on the DVD) would have been quite useful, such as the one showing the death of Mary’s husband, a major event in the book and one that historically takes Mary away from court. Others like the one of Anne using her toddler nephew to remind the King of her fertility and the barrenness of his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, would have helped explain Henry’s motivations and infatuation with Anne.

The other bonus features with biographies of all the principal court characters and a short on how the novel was transferred onto the big screen are also worthwhile.

I have yet to see Showtime’s series, The Tudors, but from the trailers, it appears that the Boleyns are prominent in Seasons One and Two and the styles are comparable.

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