Friday, May 29, 2009

Old Review of The Boleyn Girl: the movie

I wrote this when The Other Boleyn Girl came out a while ago- just wanted to post it to my blog.

It was hard not to roll my eyes during The Other Boleyn Girl.

To be fair, the book wasn’t the most accurate portrayal either, so it’s going to be automatically convoluted when it’s a movie based of an already dramatize version of history. However, the book was so intriguing and had such an emotional depth to its characters that it was at least believable within its context. I definitely love the book.

The movie had too much of a soap opera feel; it just didn’t know when to draw the line between believable and over the top. To those who are unfamiliar with the history, I can see that the intense drama makes it exciting to watch, no doubt, especially when there are beautiful actors to look at.

The real history behind it is that Mary Boleyn was indeed Henry VIII’s mistress before his sister, Anne, caught his eye, refused to be his mistress, and started on an unknowingly 7-year road towards the English Reformation. Henry wanted an annulment from Catherine of Aragon so he can marry Anne. Politically, this situation was a nightmare, and of course, its consequences changed England’s future in all aspects. The movie completely bypasses the entire political struggle and chooses to focus on the three-way love triangle that didn’t even happen in real life. The book obviously was about the sisterly relationship as well, but it at least managed to give the reader a sense of danger with a situation that so drastically changed English history.

Natalie Portman’s Anne left me a little disheartened, as Anne Boleyn is one of my heroines. Her portrayal of Anne was similar to the book as they both shed negative light on Anne as a calculating and heartless sister who would do nothing to stop her ambition of the being Queen. Yet the book managed to show more reasonable motives for Anne’s actions while Natalie Portman’s acting made it seem like I was watching this week’s episode of Mean Girls: The Boleyn Sisters.

Most historians look favorably upon Anne’s legacy and agree that Anne did not commit adultery and incest; rather, it was part of a political plot arranged by her enemies. The fact that she also produced no male heirs made her enemies case towards Anne that much stronger.

Very little is known about Mary Boleyn, which is probably why I took a liking to Scarlet Johansson’s gentle portrayal of the fair-hair sister, as it would be hard to screw up a role on a person we know so little about. In reality, her and Anne were not close at all; in fact, when Mary secretly married her second husband, William Stafford, Mary’s family disowned her since Stafford was below her social class. Mary made no attempt to contact her family during Anne’s downfall and lived out the rest of her life in the country with her husband and kids.

Eric Bana’s portrayal of Henry VIII was incredibly one-dimensional. He seemed like a man ruled solely by his penis and nothing else- and although it can be argued that the real Henry often lead with his desires, he also struggled with the political consequences of having no male heirs. In Henry’s defense, his father fought and won the War of the Roses that tore the country into civil war, which meant that without an heir for Henry, all that his father worked for would be lost.

The movie was only true to the book in its overall plotline, but the minor details that very much would give an honest feel of the Tudor period is completely missing in the movie. If you’re going to do a period movie, at least be true to the period. It’s more than just good-looking actors in 16th century costumes.

What makes me sad about this movie is that Hollywood felt the need to dress up an already fascinating history with hot actors, fake accents, brightly-colored costumes and melodramatic subplots and dialogue. Or is it trying to tell us that history otherwise is just not interesting enough for the modern day moviegoer?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Alison Weir new books and tours!

My, my, this is exciting!

Alison Weir has a new non fiction book coming out in September, called The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn with a special event accompanying the release of her book at the Tower of London. There will be a tour that consists of walking along the same route Anne did on her arrest, followed by a presentation, booking signing and also heading to the Queen's lodgings and scaffold site.

I haven't read any of Weir's non fiction books, but I LOVE her fictional narratives.

And then in Spring 2010, Alison Weir will lead a tour that leaves from US to London that will cover several Tudor attractions and landmarks. I would totally go but I've been to most of those places already!

To read more, go here

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wolf Hall

I still don't understand what Wolf Hall is about- it's a fiction but is it some sort of dramatized fictional book about Henry VIII getting a divorce from Catherine? Or what? Whose point of view is it from? Is it focused on Henry's divorce or the court? I'm a little confused.

Somebody tell me!

A review of the book

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Anne Boleyn in Gossip Girl

I watched the end of Gossip Girl last night and Blair brought up Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I.

This is what she said:

"That's the thing. You need to be cool to be queen. Anne Boleyn thought only with her heart and she got her head chopped off. So her daughter Elizabeth made a vow never to marry a man. She married a country. Forget boys. Keep your eye on the prize, Jenny Humphrey."

All I can say is WTF. Blair is an idiot. DOES SHE NOT KNOW ANNE BOLEYN AT ALL?!?!?!?! Stupid damn writers of Gossip Girl. GET YOUR DAMN HISTORY RIGHT. It's so irritating because Anne Boleyn is probably the LAST PERSON EVER who thought "with her heart" - if she thought with her heart she probably would have just had sex with Henry from the beginning and became his mistress, BUT NOOOOO, she kept the King on his toes/desires for 7 damn years!!!! It is debatable whether she refused Henry's advances in order to gain more power or if she truly wanted to keep her dignity and not be the King's whore, but either way, she was pretty damn smart. If Blair thought she was the Queen of wiley charms, SHE NEEDS TO THINK AGAIN. ANNE BOLEYN IS THE QUEEN OF CLEVER, thank you very much.

Okay, that's my rant.

Happy Anne Boleyn Day!!!! Anne Boleyn was executed today in 1536.

Buy your own Anne Boleyn "B" necklace at this website! (And Tudor oil paintings as well!)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts about season 3 of The Tudors

I just want to say that I am really enjoying this season of The Tudors. I was catching up on the episodes and I just saw episodes 4, 5 and 6 of Season 3, and I must say - I was quite moved by all the episodes. This season is moving particularly fast because of all the events that happened post Anne Boleyn and it keeps me on my toes.

Anyways, things I am loving about this season: (SPOILERS TO COME)

1) Episode 4:

All the scenes surrounding Jane Seymour's pregnancy and the birth of Edward was incredibly moving. First of all, it was nice to see Henry so loving to somebody for once (whether it's just because she's pregnant or not is debatable) and have him be so kind and sweet to her is a bonus, since Henry seems to be going off his rocker for so many episodes. The scene where he touches Jane's belly and says "Edward, be strong" gave me GOOSEBUMPS, only because we all know how history turns out.

The music was SO beautiful with the scenes surrounding the pregnancy/Henry waiting for the birth and it highlighted the intense emotional aspect of Henry waiting so long and struggling so hard for a boy. I love the scene where he's praying for the birth of a son. The camera show was particularly beautiful too. I also love it when they finally announce to Henry he has a healthy son, and Henry's so shocked he just says, "I have a son?!" And he's so emotional with tears. FINALLY! All of us watching have been waiting too. Great great scene.

I was so moved by Henry's little speech to Jane at her deathbed about how he can't live without her, even though she "did everything you promised you would." I was moved; again, it's because Henry has shown so little emotion in terms of actually LOVING somebody in a while that I was touched that he cared about Jane that much. He said something about how he's her light in this dark world, and for a moment, I actually felt for his own internal struggle with being King.

Oh, just to add: I'm loving Mary Tudor, actually. She has always been a person in history I never cared much about, but I'm loving this young portrayal of her in the Tudors. The scene where the ambassador tells Mary about a possible suitor and how handsome he is, you can tell that she is trembling with DESIRE! Especially for her age at the time, she is getting past her prime marrying time. And the actress playing her is adorable and does a nice job of making Mary rather dignified.

2) Episode 5:

Following the death of Jane, Henry shuts himself up in seclusion and sees nobody but his Fool. I really enjoyed this episode because I really enjoyed THE FOOL, Will Somers. He was very candid and said things to Henry that normal courtiers would not be able to say, and made jokes about it all. I think Will said something about Anne Boleyn and how Henry has gotten rid of all his wives. And his relationship with Henry was really quirky and interesting and almost fatherly in some way. It was a really fascinating relationship/balance of power to watch, as Henry seems to be the weak one. Henry was also going crazy with his fantasy drawings of Nonsuch Palace.

Speaking of crazy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers' acting is SPLENDID in this episode. In fact, I see vast improvement from season 1, and I think it's GREAT that although Jonathan isn't physically getting fatter as the real Henry was, he is able to act a lot of older and make us believe his youth has withered away along with his sanity.

3) Episode 6:

Good episode. I loved watching the whole search for a bride process. My curiosity is how are they going to explain to us viewers that Joss Stone isn't pretty?!?!?!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Anne Boleyn Day coming up

Next Tuesday is Anne Boleyn Day!!

"This special day has been created to commemorate the execution of Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and second wife to Henry VIII, on May 19 1536 after being found guilty of treason, adultery and incest. The aim of Anne Boleyn Day is to spread the message that Anne Boleyn is an inspiration for modern women and the most influential queen that England has known."

Read more here!

Thanks Claire! :-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vatican letter on sale for $68,000

If you can spare $68,000, you can buy a copy of the letter in which Henry asked the Catholic church for an annulment from Catherine of Aragon.

"The Vatican has opened its Secret Archives, the repository of centuries worth of documents pertaining to the Holy See, to let the world get a closer look at a document presaging England’s split from the Church of Rome. Dated July 13, 1530 and addressed to Pope Clement VII, the letter asks for the annulment of Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and includes the seals of dozens of peers of England who concurred with the request. A facsimile of the document will go on sale next month for about $68,000 from Venice-based publisher Scrinium, which plans a limited run of 199 copies."

Vatican Reveals Letter That Split England from Roman Church

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Joss Stone in the fourth and final season of The Tudors

According to Reuters, Joss Stone will not only appear in the current season of the Tudors, but also in the fourth and final season. (Waaa!)

Stone will be playing the role of Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife.

This has been discussed many a times, but Joss Stone is too pretty to play Anne. I wonder how they're going to downplay her attractiveness.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Bully or hero?

Henry VIII: Bully or Hero?

I defintely don't think Henry was a hero. Yes, he started the English Reformation and he represents this majestic monarch, but I think he was a spoiled selfish man who got everything he wanted and would do anything to get it. He was a fascinating figure in history and I love learning and reading about him, but a hero?

According to this article, the "heroic" aspects of Henry would be that he "marked the transition from a medieval state to a modern state. He founded the Church of England. He swaggered out and claimed a place for England on the European stage that it has held ever since, despite its size."

I don't know if that's heroic, but maybe it is for England's place in the world. I guess I only find things heroic if the intentions are for the good of everyone, not just for one person. Henry might have done that and as a result, it was good for the English people, but then again, he may did what he did for his own legacy.

But I love him nonetheless.

Friday, May 8, 2009

New Mary Tudor book out

I don't think it's out in the US yet, but a new Mary Tudor book just came out this week in the UK.

Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen
By Anna Whitelock

Read review here

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Henry VIII: A Sports Fanatic

This is a very informative article about Henry's love for sports- it claims Henry loved sports more than women, but I disagree. But I'm also a woman.

"A decathlete before his time, Henry was adept at the javelin, dressage and double‑axe fighting, and was also a dab hand at archery. Reporting on the Yeoman of the Guard's annual competition in 1510, Edward Hall wrote: "His grace shotte as stronge and as greate a lengthe as anie of his garde." His second wife, Boleyn, was less talented – Henry's expenses claim to the Privy Purse reveals that on one deer hunt she succeeded only in shooting a cow. She was, however, better at bowls, making up a decent mixed-doubles pair with her husband, who was so keen on the sport that when he went to war with Emperor Maximilian he took his indoor-bowling shed (90ft by 8ft) with him so he could work on his game between battles."

Why King Henry VIII loved sport more than women

Monday, May 4, 2009

Robert Dudley's garden recreated

As a personal fan of Robert Dudley and his relationship with Elizabeth, I was thrilled to find this article about the recreation of the garden that Robert built in order to woo and make his final marriage plea to Elizabeth. It's located at Kenilworth Castle, just opened to the public for the first time this past Saturday.

"By 1575, Dudley decided to make one last plea to the Virgin Queen. He had the gardens of his home magnificently made over ready for her 19-day visit. He planned to stage a masquerade there in which an actor playing the "messenger of the gods" was to have bluntly told Elizabeth: "How necessarie were for worthy Queenes to wed, that know you wel whose life alwayes in learning hath beene led".

It was Robert Langam, a member of Dudley's staff, who described the garden in vivid detail in a thousand word letter that helped researchers put together this garden.

Read more:

Recreated, the Tudor garden where an ambitious earl wooed the Virgin Queen