Adapted from the historical novel written by British author Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl is the story of 16th-century aristocrat Mary Boleyn.
Competently characterized by Scarlett Johansson, Mary earned the “Other Boleyn Girl” title after her scheming sister Anne advanced her mistress status to be the king’s second wife. The book and movie had a number of differences, much so with the accounted story of Mary Boleyn.
Despite the alteration, I like the film simply because it rekindles my interest in history. Mary was portrayed to be the gentle and honest younger Boleyn sister while Anne, played by Natalie Portman, is the more ambitious and deceitful one. Both became King Henry VIII’s (Eric Bana) mistress but it was Anne who ascended as queen and the king’s second wife. Fiery Anne’s rise, however, was too abrupt and caused her neck to be placed underneath the executioner’s blade. Affectionate Mary, on the other hand, enjoyed a farm life in the comforts of her second husband and adopted Anne’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth.
My Western Civilization history book secures a proud position on my night table and is now atop other romance novels I haven’t read for months. Based on my recent readings, here are some of the historical facts as conflicting with the film’s writing –
> Only Henry Carey’s birth was shown on the film, undermining Catherine being the oldest daughter. No contemporary evidence exists to support the argument that Henry, though bore a resemblance to Henry VIII, was the king’s biological son.
> Mary made no attempt to visit Queen Anne during her imprisonment in the tower of London. she moreover never went to Henry VIII to beg for her sister’s life.
> Anne, just like her sister Mary, spent her childhood and learned the ways of the court in France. It was never a punishment for secretly marrying Henry Percy.
> Mary, as many firm documentary evidence imply, is the eldest of the three Boleyn children.
> Mary’s marriage to William Stafford earned her parents’ fury and led Anne to push her from the court.
> Mary did not care for Elizabeth after Anne’s execution.
> Henry Percy was not the heir of the Duke of Northumberland, but the Earl.
> Anne fell in love with Henry Percy and their engagement was called off on the orders of the king. They were never secretly married as shown in the film.
> Anne’s failure to produce a male heir and Henry’s wanting to marry Jane Seymour forced the king to charge her with adultery and witchcraft.
** 14 April 2008 post