Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Other Boleyn Girl

The trailer for The Other Boleyn Girl is out and don't bother watching it on Moviefone, it doesn't work. Thank goodness for YouTube.

It's Hollywood's latest take on those crazy Tudors, who have been seeing an incredible glut of television series and movies. I think Elizabeth I is still in the lead, but her dad is catching up.

It's rather frustrating to watch as an amateur historian, as there are plenty of fascinating medieval personages just screaming for the movie treatment. How about Eleanor of Aquitaine? Queen Isabella, She Wolf of France? Stephen and Matilda? Aethelflaed, Lady of Mercia, or the War of the Roses? There's plenty of sex, bloodshed and drama outside of the Tudors. HBO's Rome figured that out, why hasn't anyone else?

But no. We get the Tudors. Again. One longs for someone to focus on someone other than Anne Boleyn--Jane Seymour wants to know where her movie is. A movie about her would make a chilling counterpoint, as she was literally packing her bags and preparing her wedding clothes as the cannons rang out Anne Boleyn's death.

I do blame Philippa Gregory for this, as it was her hugely successful book (which this film is based on) which led to dozens of imitators, who all forgot Henry VIII had four other wives after. And she herself has only danced around the Bolyens and Catherine of Aragon for her other novels.

But what of the trailer?

I suppose I'm being extra snarky here because I couldn't click on it fast enough, and sat there in girly delight--oh the gabled hoods! The gorgeous dresses! OMG ERIC BANA SHIRTLESS!

The cast of "The Other Boleyn Girl" is certainly top-notch and the production values look splendid. The costumes are more accurate than anything "The Tudors" has trotted out--it does my costume geek heart glad to see Anne sporting the gabled hood she made fashionable. The accents, however, are sketchy. That's especially surprising in Bana, given that he is Australian and should be better at Shakespearean English.

Eric Bana is both a delight and a problem in this role. He's far closer to the athletic and attractive Henry who looked good in his tight stockings than Showtime's bony Jonathan Rhys Meyers. But he doesn't have red hair! Hollywood is so desperate for a sexy Henry VIII that they constantly make him a brunette. Would it kill the make-up team to add some color? If anyone can be a sexy redhead, it is Eric Bana. (The onscreen pairing of Bana and Portman, who *does* have the right coloring for Boleyn, will make a red-haired daughter quite mysterious. Maybe that's how the charges of adultery get worked in!)

I find it no end of amusing that Natalie "I won't do nudity" Portman and Scarlett "when do I take my clothes off" Johannson are playing the tart and the prude, respectively. In reality, Mary Boleyn was such a whore, she was sent home from the French court. That's probably the version Johannson thought she was signing up for.
Of course, the double irony is that I've never understood the Johannson hype and rather think she looks the part of a shrinking wallflower.

It goes without saying that The Other Boleyn Girl will bear only a passing resemblance to the actual history. Again, what I find perplexing about the Tudor craze is that everyone is obsessed with rewriting it, when the truth is raunchy and bloody enough on its own. I'm waiting for a version where a lady-in-waiting is beheaded in Anne's place, and she lives in quiet, anonymous solitude. Maybe it will be this one.

Despite my annoyance at everything surrounding it, I am a sucker for a corset piece, and will be seeing this. I don't expect it to be very good. I doubt even the sex scene between Bana and Johannson will be worth it--probably nothing more than the trailer's five seconds of candle-lit shoulders and hands.

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