Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Movie Review - The Other Boleyn Girl

A couple of days ago, I got a new library card. I did it mainly to take advantage of the inter-library loan system to get books for my research into the Open Hood. The side-effect of having a library card, however, is free movies. So I picked up The Other Boleyn Girl, the recent release movie based on the historical fiction by Phillipa Gregory.

First off, I have to admit that I have always been interested in the reign of the Tudors. My maternal grandmother's family is a branch of the Howard family line that connects to Katherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife (though remotely, I must add). Ever since learning this as a young teenager, I've always liked learning about the Tudors, and I have a fairly good understanding of the story of the six wives of Henry 8. The Other Boleyn Girl (book and movie)is not historically accurate- it is a fiction after all- but the story is real. Anne Boleyn's ambition to be Queen went a long way to change the religious face of England forever.

In the movie, Anne is portrayed by Natalie Portman, while her sister, Mary, is played by Scarlett Johansson. The interplay between the sisters is very dramatic, but Mary is definitely the protagonist of the story. Anne, meanwhile, is characterized as devious and self-serving, and more a director of her family's ambitions than the historical Anne probably was. Overall, the movie is good for loaning from the library on the story front. It's soft- no bloodshed, no graphic sex- and, in my opinion, it's a little too soft.

It's the costumes, however, that make this movie worth it. The gowns worn by the women in the movie (even the extras) are all excellently tailored and beautifully shot. The male costumes are slightly anachronistic- especially those of the King. The inspiration for his wardrobe was probably a portrait of Henry in a later part of his life, and the effect on Eric Bana is a bit unflattering. But the girl's gowns make up for it.

Now, if you've spent any amount of time reading this blog, you know I'm not doing any 16th century costuming at this point, but I did pick out a few of the outfits that I definitely would not mind having. The first is the dress Anne wears when she confronts her father and uncle about her marriage to Henry Percy (below).

The gold and beige brocade and the high collar of the grey velvet partlet are very lovely, and the color combination is feminine but subdued. She wears a gold hairnet which is a perfect compliment. If she had worn the gabled hoods worn throughout the rest of the movie, this outfit would not have worked.

The second is Mary's second to last dress from the movie (above). It is a black and dark red dress combined with a red and black embroidered collar and a similarly colored jacket with black fur collar. She wears a red and black hairnet, that, once again adds to the subdued look. This is a wonderful outfit for Mary at this point in the movie- graceful, strong-willed, mature- all the qualities she lacked at the start of the film.

The final gown that caught my eye was Anne's execution outfit (above). I LOVE the ermine goller in combination with the black, beaded dress. Even better was when she removed her hood to reveal the accurate use of a white coif underneath (something the movie fails to show at any other point in the movie). As she exited the Tower, standing tall, this somber moment was made by the mourning color of her gown combined with the clearest symbol of royalty ever known- ermine.

Costume's like this make movies like this worth it.

(Movie stills were acquired from The Costumer's Guide to Movie Costumes)