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movie

saw a movie at Lido today; this might not seem important enough to write about, but the last time I went to a movie house was in 1998 so there is a reason for going

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)

I was interested in tudor history and saw Henry VIII acted by Keith Mitchell, both in the BBC version (which was quite bad, despite the good reviews it received at the time) and the movie version (much better),

however the stronger reason was natalie portman, whom I saw as a teen actress in the Professional, about a hired killer (acted by Jean Reno)

this was the movie that inspired Zhang Yueran (http://sinazen.com/zhangyueran) to write Red Shoes so I was particularly keen to see how Portman has turned out as an adult;

unfortunately I could not sit through the whole movie, and left after Ann gave birth (to the future queen Elizabeth); in fact I felt things were going quite bad already after one hour when Mary gave birth, even though the earlier part was reasonably promising - by eliminating the historical context and making the whole story a domestic drama, the figures in it became rather small - Henry, for example, was merely lustful and weak, instead of being one of the most monumental English monarchs; the two girls were not as badly affected, but neither had they been able to show much admirable qualities. The Duke of Norfolk and others were merely nasty schemers, whereas the people at the time actually were sincerely concerned about both religion and about dynastic issues. Neither Thomas More nor Thomas Cromwell appear. Wolsey was mentioned a couple of times, but I could not even see which of the courtiers was him. Affairs of state were not mentioned at all. I have no doubt there are autocrats who would tear nations apart because of lust for women, whom they then eliminate equally ruthlessly afterwards, but I have no desire to see such sordid stories.

If the movie was bad, the advertisements before the movie were worse. In the old days when I used to take kids to see movies, I thought the ads were quite corrupting: they always show beautiful people enjoying themselves, simply because they used products X, Y or Z; kids under constant doses of such influences would probably end up as disappointed adults with unrealistic expectations. Today, however, the ads were merely hilarious: one about an old couple renewing their marriage vows at Raffles Hotel (it was about Citibank), one about how romantic a Toyota Corolla is, and two macho ads about taking up police profession; then the last one , about Carlsbergs being parachuted to mountaineers, I have seen on TV, and did not find so bad here, maybe because it is more obviously stupid, maybe because it is already familiar

I guess it will be many years before my next movie...

I guess the trivialization of tudor history done in this movie is just part of contemporary culture, which has room for sensations but not ideas; see my discussion in

http://sinazen.com/intellectuals and Stars明星

I have experienced the loss of interest in ideas for the last 20 years, in teaching, research and other spheres; my articles

http://sinazen.com/marx

http://sinazen.com/confucius

http://sinazen.com/neoconfucianism

used to attract a lot more audience than today; in teaching, students have increasingly only been interested in formularized knowledge rather than the process of thinking; even in research, the desire for rigour has led to most work being on a thin slice of reality with a small number of variables, so that their relationship can be rigorously analysed; unfortunately, the thin slices may or may not add up to a whole. 

 

Paul Arendt a review along my line of thoughts 

Ravishing frocks and heaving bosoms are the main constituents of The Other Boleyn Girl, an entertaining bodice ripper lightly disguised as historical fiction. The frocks and bosoms in question belong to Anne and Mary Boleyn (Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson), bitter rivals for the affection of Eric Bana's brooding Henry VIII. Essentially, it's the Tudors with a Hollywood budget, a pitched battle between lush romanticism and vicious politicking.

Peter Morgan's screenplay, based on a florid novel by Philippa Gregory, portrays the Tudor court as an ermine-lined hotbed of flirting. Henry, resplendent in his inflatable shoulder pads, is a velvet-voiced Seducer in Chief. The king and his courtiers spend so much time bed-hopping it's a wonder they have time to run the country. Johansson's wet Mary, pimped out to Henry by her horribly ambitious father, is bamboozled by the political aspects of their relationship. She really loves him, unlike her manipulative sis, portrayed by Portman as the ultimate codpiece tease. It's well known that Henry split with the Catholic Church in order to marry Anne, but in this version he does it purely to get into her heavily embroidered pants.

Director Justin Chadwick shoots in the ravishing style of an M & S commercial, lingering delightfully on food and flesh alike, while the soundtrack lays on the heavy portentous chords to remind us that – hey - someone's going to get their head chopped off eventually. It might sound tacky, but in truth The Other Boleyn Girl is shamelessly good fun, a chocolate truffle of a movie designed to appeal to the overseas heritage cinema market. Morgan's adaptation strikes a perfect balance between seriousness and melodrama, and Portman really throws herself into the complex character of Anne.