I’ve been in an Anne Boleyn mood late due to listening to the audiobook of the most recent biography, Hunting the Falcon: Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the Marriage That Shook Europe by John Guy & Julia Fox. Side note: highly recommended, although I wish they would have taken into account some of the issues about sources raised by Susan Bordo. Since I then wanted to watch some films about Anne, I had to think about what we hadn’t reviewed in-depth on the blog, because 99% of what I watch needs to be things I can write about! So then I remembered praising Jodhi May‘s performance in the 2003 The Other Boleyn Girl — no, not the feature film that we’ve podcasted about, but an earlier TV movie by the BBC — and thought I should revisit it.
Welp, it’s clearly a LOW BUDGET production. The cast is tiny, the locations are sparse, and main characters get about three wardrobe changes over like 10 years. The story is very much framed the way Philippa Fucking Gregory wrote her source-material book: a power struggle between two sisters. Which is super interesting to consider, and I like what they did with Mary’s (Natascha McElhone) character (she’s emotional and strong but quiet), but while Jodhi May gives a good performance as Anne … apparently Anne’s whole motivation for everything Henry-related is to spite her sister and her family.
There’s literally one tiny mention of anything related to religion (Anne saying “I think Henry will break with Rome soon”) and nothing about Anne’s religious or intellectual interests. Anne entices Henry (Jared Harris) for six years with almost-kissing-him sexual tension, but there’s ZERO mention of her French background or anything about political angles, both of which she totally used in her rise to power — in this she shows her cleavage and acts flirty and done. Oh, and apparently Mary comes back to court to support Anne through her downfall. It’s overall less cheesey and overwrought than the 2008 feature film, so it has that going for it.
FYI that it’s filmed in super shaky cam with reality show-style confessionals:
Mary gets the nicest dress, this green and gold damask gown, even if I stared at that flatlining-error wrinkle above her waist throughout. They get the general shape of the women’s gowns correct, although they are constructed theatrically as back-lacing bodices instead of historically accurate front-closing with an overlapping stomacher; there’s no partlets and little trim.
In Anne’s final years, Mary gets a black damask gown to indicate how somber everything has gotten:
There’s also a lot of streaming hair/no hoods while indoors:
Anne gets the boring beige/gold gown above and spends a LOT of time in this dark red velvet:
She gets a shocking amount of bling for her wedding, but that immediately disappears.
We see Anne being dressed in white for the procession that took place the day before her coronation, but don’t see the actual ceremony:
For maternity, Anne gets some kind of Bitchy Roman Loungewear with an overgown:
And when things go downhill, she gets black satin with a bit of neckline bling:
And she’s in full black for her beheading:
Catherine of Aragon goes Full Dump:
The men are decent, in wide Henrician outfits with big sleeves, although there is a shocking lack of hats:
Do you remember the 2003 The Other Boleyn Girl? What’s your take?