The Other Boleyn Girl
The two adaptations after the controversial novel “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory present a historical fictional story of the Boleyn sisters, Anne and Mary. This is a ravishing, emotionally intense story of love, loyalty and betrayal in the chase for power and social position, portraying the human desires and flaws in a beautifully described historical background at the English court. The private life of the historical figures from the XVIth century and the intrigues hidden behind the official documents is quite an ambiguous, curiously challenging segment of time, from the historical point of view. The book, and the two film adaptations after – “The Other Boleyn Girl” explore the uncertain times in the life of Henry the VIIIth, before deciding to divorce Katherine of Aragorn, remarry Anne Boleyn and start the Church of England.
The first adaptation is a television film, released by BBC in 2003, directed by Philippa Lowthorpe. It is remarkable for its innovative style, close to experimental, very unusual for the historical fictional drama genre. The film was shot with a digital camera, but what is most striking is the modern use of camerawork – handhelds, the shaky movements at the beginning, the two sisters confessions looking straight into the camera, like in an interview – give a documentary style to the appearance of the movie. While most films of the same genre are trying to recreate the atmosphere of the time, by using the classical parameters, this film is trying to achieve exactly the opposite. This cinéma vérité style has the subtle purpose of bringing the viewer closer to the story and effectively involved throughout the narrative. In the same time the film focuses on the development of the relations between the two sisters, and the usage of this style suggests that the universal human values, aspirations and flaws are unchangeable throughout the centuries, in any society, both nowadays and in the XVI th century. This brought controversies to the reception of the movie and some viewers rejected it because of this, especially if comparing the adaptation to the classical, colourful style of the book.
The second screening, from 2008 brings a complete different view comparing to the BBC version, addressing to a different audience, by presenting the plot in a more romantic, classical manner. This is the Hollywood version, staring famous actors like Natalie Portman (Anne Boleyn), Scarlett Johansson (Mary Boleyn), Eric Bana (Henry Tudor). The film is trying to recreate the atmosphere at the English royal court in the time of Henry the VIIIth by using bright, outrageous costumes, dramatic lighting and strong, emotionally involving scenes. The film is slightly approaching the political circumstances, but only in order to support the main plot. For example, when Anne and her family is waiting for the king’s decision whether to divorce Katherine of Aragorn or not, the scene is created from Anne’s point of...