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The Other Boleyn Girl

the 2008 film starring Natalie Portman

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A Machiavellian Masterpiece

  • Mar 13, 2009
  • by
Much has been written about this turbulent time in English history, the reign of Henry VIII, when the English Court changed course, breaking from the Roman Church in order to dissolve Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon, who could not bear a living heir to the throne.

The fortunes of the great aristocratic families, who fill the courts and fawn upon the King, are immensely enriched when they gain the King's favor and attention. Comely as a young king, Henry VIII is accustomed to garnering the flattery of the young women who serve as the Queen's attendants. The Boleyn/Howard family holds a prominent position in Henry's court in the early 1520's, as Katherine of Aragon becomes ever more desperate in her need to supply an heir and keep the King's affection.

The Howards and Boleyns have many young women available to the court, and when Henry first takes note of Mary Boleyn Carey, she is already married. It is acceptable behavior for the King to tryst with her as a paramour, which would be scandalous if she were not married. Mary's sister, Anne, recently returned from the French Court, is one of the clever minds pushing Mary to prominence. The third Boleyn, George, their brother, is also a pet of the Tudor Court, forming the family triumvirate that is to be part of the intrigue surrounding the eventual dissolution of marriage to Katherine of Aragon that will set a precedent and change history.

Eventually Mary is replaced in the King's favor by her sister Anne, and George and Mary are instructed to hold their positions, this time in support of the clever, if unlikable, Anne. For five long years Anne tempts and challenges Henry, until she herself is crowned Queen. Never beloved, Anne's temperament is equal to Henry's and she hasn't the wisdom or patience to turn the other cheek on dalliances as Katherine did. Eventually, Henry tires of Anne's scolding and constant demands, his attention newly captured by the seemingly docile and pure behavior of a simpering Jane Seymour. Anne must live with the precedent she's established, swept aside by the King in his desperate pursuit of another to provide a male heir.

Gregory's characters are incisive, the story masterfully told, the plots and counter-plots necessary for political viability fascinating to follow. No less complicated than modern day affairs, the degree of scheming is truly of Machiavellian design. Engaging and thought provoking, Gregory's beautifully crafted novel overflows with intrigue and ambition, with scheming characters who bet everything of the whims of a puerile King. The result is magnificent. Luan Gaines.

The Other Boleyn Girl

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April 03, 2009
The book was better, and the story is great- I for some reason am really in love with this story and Queen Elizabeth. I am reading the first Elizabeth now- all in all a good movie!
More The Other Boleyn Girl reviews
review by . September 02, 2009
   I have not read the book by this same title. Nor have I watched any of the popular Tudor's series of late.      I don't know what's worse...watching a film that is beautiful in scenery, costume and acting not knowing what the outcome will be and hoping for the best, or knowing and having the impotent sense of horror as you watch it all unfold. The film starts with "Mr." Boleyn offering his girls to the highest bidder...more or less. Anne (Natalie Portman), …
review by . September 05, 2008
Seeing that this movie is from a novel based on historical events, the general gist of the story may not be unfamiliar to most, although the accuracy of some of the content may be debatable.       Short Attention Span Summary (SASS):     1. Henry VIII (Eric Bana) was a handsome, hunky, hunka hunka burnin' love   2. Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman) and her sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) were babelicious babes   3. Married Henry …
About the reviewer
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #108
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … more
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