Written: Anwesha Simlai Edited: Smriti Poduval
Based on the best-selling novel ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by historical novelist and Tudor enthusiast Philippa Gregory, the movie by the same title focuses on a small part of the life of one of England’s unluckiest-in-love monarch, Henry VIII (Eric Bana), focused on his involvement with the Boleyn sisters — Mary (Scarlet Johansson), his mistress; and Anne (Natalie Portman), also his mistress, later wife, and eventual late wife. The film revolves around love, dedication, ambition, jealousy, seduction, and hatred in the court of Henry Tudor.
This fictionalized account of historical events sees the Boleyn sisters as “wombs” by which two extremely ambitious men — their father, Thomas Boleyn, and their uncle, Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk — vie to gain the King’s favor. Forced to fight for kingly favour, the sisters eventually became the other’s worst enemy.
The movie shows how the aristocracy and English society in general constructed women and blamed them for internalizing those ideals. The example set by the king gave a sense of how low the idea of a woman’s integrity and respect was. It shows how easily a women’s character can be tarnished. Women are portrayed as nothing but puppets in a male centric world, used when needed, thrown away when done.
The desire for a male heir destroyed several lives, with the irony lying in Anne’s daughter, Elizabeth, ultimately reigning over one of the longest and most stable periods in English history. This turbulent movie gives you a number of different perspectives, ultimately resulting in a sense of disappointment in how little society has changed since.