The Other Boleyn Girl


I haven’t seen ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’. Why would I? But review it? Why not?

 Henry VIII was nauseatingly obese and had at least 43 children, leading respected historian E. P. Thompson to dub him ‘The Sperm Whale’. His bestial gluttony and lecherousness were matched only by his cruelty towards his serving staff, in whose long-suffering low-born faces Henry often waggled his disgusting greasy fingers, mockingly. So it was with violent puzzlement that I ‘watched’ ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’, in which Henry is, inexplicably, depicted as a handsome and erudite sovereign, unburdened with a distended gut-pouch. Henry VIII, was, according to this film, the Tudors’ answer to Elvis Presley or, to use a more contemporary example, Chris De Burgh.

 See Henry nuzzling wenches in the privet. See Henry shooting dormice. See Henry laughing it up with Sir Thomas More. A more cynical reviewer might argue that this film is just one big exercise in ‘seeing’, like so many films nowadays. As cinemagoers we need more than just things to look at. We need moral instruction and spiritual guidance. We need passion and pomp. We need to be grabbed by our crimson ruffles and squeezed. We need to leave the picture-house feeling that something has just happened. I’m not sure that this film answers these needs. ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ fawns and flatters the eyeballs like a base, perfumed pettifogger, and superficially charms the visual cortex with its flimsy baubles. Speaking of which, Scarlett Johanssen should perhaps be singled out for praise for putting in a pneumatic, curvaceous performance as Ann Boleyn.

 Early Modern English history was a gruesome tangled root, from whence grew the gnarled barky monstrosity that is modern life. Had Henry VIII fiddled less frenetically with the church and with the business of procreation, had he not furnished cause for future intestine broil with his cavalier attitude towards best practice, then the world might have been a better place. The English Civil War and latterly the Second World War might not have happened, and people might have looked less strange than they do in the present age. There is of course no way of knowing. But this much is true: if we do not learn from history, how can we learn from it. ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ offers us no opportunity to learn from history, choosing instead to engage in dainty parlour games and coquetteish monkey-business . I shudder when I consider how many of the impressionable youths who are swayed by the spangly trinkets of this film will grow up to become corpulent, lusty monarchs. It really doesn’t bear thinking about.


2 Responses to “The Other Boleyn Girl”

  1. Nobody Says:

    Your final paragraph has convinced me that it was not Shakespeare, as Harold Bloom so brazenly alleged, but Henry VIII who invented the modern human. This paradigm shift has completely scuttled my doctoral thesis so heartbreakingly close to completion.

  2. johnlebaptiste Says:

    ‘Fraid so buddy. Bloom is a brazen hussy.

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