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The Other Boleyn Girl(2008)
A sumptuous and sensual tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in European history, The Other Boleyn Girl tells the story of two beautiful sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn who, driven by their family's blind ambition, compete for the love of the handsome and passionate King Henry VIII (Eric Bana). While both women eventually share the king's bed, only one will ascend to the throne for a brief and turbulent reign that ends tragically with a swing of the executioner's sword.
For more about The Other Boleyn Girl and the The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray release, see the The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 26, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana, Jim Sturgess, Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas
Director: Justin Chadwick
» See full cast & crew
The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray Review
Is this Blu-ray worth losing your head over?
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 26, 2008
Love is of no value without power and position.
A true oddity in the period/historical/costume drama film, The Other Boleyn Girl is a movie that is depressing from beginning to end, a tale of passion, deceit, power, positioning, hate, fear, and insanity. Loosely based not only on historical events but also on a novel of the same name by Philippa Gregory, the film plays out more as a fictitious romp in sin, despite the PG-13 rating. The fact that it is indeed based on true events is frightening, and after watching the movie, I couldn't help but wonder how England not only survived but eventually thrived following a period in its storied history as dark, brutal, unrelenting, and depressing as is depicted here. Oftentimes playing out like a daytime melodrama replete with unsavory characters (save for one or two), The Other Boleyn Girl manages to maintain a pace and intrigue that should keep even the most ardent anti-period film moviegoer interested, if for no other reason than to reach the inevitable and storied conclusion, one that I was glad to see arrive not only to mark the end of the film, but also out of spite for the repulsive characters depicted in the movie.
Based on the story of Henry VIII (Eric Bana, Troy) King of England, the story is set in the early 16th century and deals with his unyielding demand that his wife, Katherine of Aragon (Ana Torrent), yield him a male heir to the throne. When she fails time and again (first giving birth to a daughter, then suffering several miscarriages) and finally ages beyond her child-bearing years, the Boleyn family maneuvers itself to provide the King a mistress and hopefully a son, an heir that would cement their standing in the King's court and provide them unfound wealth and privilege in the country. Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson, The Prestige) has recently married, uncharacteristically before her older sister Anne (Natalie Portman, V For Vendetta), as their father feels Anne is the sister more likely to make a mark on society and wants her to hold out for a husband with a title. Anne reluctantly accepts the family's proposition to seduce the King after she is all but assured the hand of a Marquis or Duke as a reward when all is said and done. During a hunting expedition at the Boleyn estate, the King is injured and awakens to find himself in the care of Mary. He falls for her immediately, and she and her husband are whisked away to prominent positions in the King's court, and Mary made his mistress. To her surprise, she falls for the King, as does he fall for her, but when she is bedridden during a dangerous pregnancy, she loses favor in the King's eye, and the family once again calls upon Anne to save the family's name and place in the King's court. Will Mary's true love for the King and her birthing of a son win him back, or will Anne's and her family's lust for power and stature bring ruin to both the King and to England as it is?
As alluded to above, I didn't dislike the movie but I did not care that much for the particularly cruel characters that inhabited it. It's difficult to enjoy a movie when, an hour into it, you're longing to see them all paraded through the streets and executed one at a time for the arrogant, demeaning, and repulsive way that they maneuver one another in a continual struggle to gain power, wealth, and stature (in the case of the Boleyn family), and the inept, ungrateful, and demeaning manner in which King Henry VIII treated his wives and mistresses in his relentless pursuit to gain a male heir to the throne, a pursuit that would change the social, political, and religious landscape of England forever. Nevertheless, these are representations of the characters that did play out this part of English history, and the actors which portray them do a fine job of churning our stomachs and depicting what vile people these were, not to mention the way in which some families were willing to degrade themselves for power. Natalie Portman stands out as Anne Boleyn, her portrayal, particularly after she returns from France with a newfound approach at winning over the King, is shockingly frightening as she methodically maneuvers herself into the King's favor and, eventually, into her infamous place in history. The movie is technically sound, a well-made period drama to be sure, just one populated by shady characters.
The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Other Boleyn Girl courts Blu-ray viewers with an enticing all-digital 1080p, 1.85:1 high definition transfer. Shot using a Panavision Genesis HD Camera, the film certainly looks pristine. Grain is absent, and in many places, the transfer shines. The movie is a fantastic visual experience, and from the opening scenes of the sun-bathed and golden wheat fields of England, viewers cannot help but brace themselves for the potential of the visual treat to come. Like the tone of the movie and the character of its inhabitants, the look of the film turns decidedly dark and remains that way for much of the movie. Some of these danker, colder interior shots appear a bit washed out. Blacks, therefore, look too bright and gray in places, but at other times they are solid and true. In fact, the contrast between the interiors of the castle and palatial estates and the bright outdoor sequences is startling. The interiors are not just gray and dark, but mostly lifeless. Detail is generally astounding. A few exterior shots of the King's castle show nice texture and depth on the stones and wood, and some interiors show off fine detail on columns, tapestries, and other assorted materials. The intricate costumes also look wonderful. Close-up shots show the gleaming material, fine stitching, and ornate decorations found on each one. Flesh tones are accurate throughout. Colors, when visible and well-lit, are vibrant and eye-catching, the blue and green dresses worn by Anne, for example, fare well in high definition. The movie's decidedly bleak appearance suits the tone of the film perfectly, and while this film looks good in high definition, the source material simply doesn't lend itself to become a reference-quality disc.
The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Most listeners will fancy this film's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless sound mix. The film's score, courtesy of composer Paul Cantelon, sounds realistic and pleasant, encircling the viewer during the opening credits with a wonderfully subdued theme. At times, dialogue sounded a bit harsh, but there were never any problems volume-wise or with dialogue discernment. Surrounds are active when needed, generally creating a pleasing, low-volume atmosphere. The stampeding of horses marking the King's arrival at the Boleyn estate is one of the few times the subwoofer will have the opportunity to stretch its legs during this film. There is some fine echoing and natural sound in chapter 8, for example, when Anne returns to the King's palace for a meal and shares her thoughts on the new French King. As a historical period drama, The Other Boleyn Girl will certainly not wow any Blu-ray or lossless audio fans with a bombastic authority or over-the-top sound effects, but the soundtrack plays as a fine compliment to the movie, delivering robust sound when needed, silence when called upon, a pleasing atmosphere, and score that plays nicely with the film's tone and visual style.
The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Other Boleyn Girl arrives on Blu-ray with a healthy dose of supplemental features. First is a commentary track with director Justin Chadwick. The director focuses his comments on the realism of the film, the difference in this period piece as opposed to others, the performance of his cast, the attention to detail captured by the set designers and costumers, and the experience in shooting in high definition and the advantages the medium brought to the picture. Other than a few moments of dead air, Chadwick provides an engaging and in-depth track that is filled with insight and ideas, providing a fulfilling listen. This disc also features a picture-in-picture experience dubbed Inside the Court. This track is unique amongst the ones I have seen in that it reverses the normal way in which we view pop-up trivia tracks. When a factoid appears on-screen, a new background takes over, and the movie plays in a smaller window and the trivia becomes the focal point of the frame. Viewers also have the option of skipping forward to the next fact rather than waiting for it to appear.
Next are twelve deleted and alternate scenes, including an alternate ending (1080p, 23:46). Members of the Court: Character Biographies (1080p, 16:48) examines the lives of Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn, King Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon, George Boleyn, and The Duke of Norfolk through the comments of historians and author Philippa Gregory. Three featurettes are next. To Be a Lady (1080p, 10:33) examines the life and times of women in 16th century England. Translating History to Screen (1080p, 10:06) focuses on the importance of the Philippa Gregory book on the script, Philippa's search for just who Mary Boleyn was (a figure who had been, until now, merely a footnote in history), and takes a very general look at the process of bringing the story to the big screen. Camera Tests With Narration By Director Justin Chadwick (1080p, 2:16) concludes the featurettes with a look at a test of the Genesis HD Camera. Concluding the supplements are 1080p trailers for 21, Vantage Point, Across the Universe, The Jane Austen Book Club, Persepolis, Premonition, Made of Honor, Prom Night, and a Blu-ray promotional montage.
The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Make no mistake about it, The Other Boleyn Girl is a good movie. It's very well made and acted with tremendous attention to detail in its settings and costumes. My problem with the film is that I simply found I disdained the characters portrayed in it, so much so that the film became unbearable, almost all of them dark souls willing to do anything and everything for power, privilege, and prestige. Ambition is one thing, selling your soul (and your children, for that matter) is another. Nevertheless, The Other Boleyn Girl is so effective at portraying this dark period of English history that it managed to stir my emotions and elicit a strong reaction. For that, the movie is a complete success, but it is one I will not be revisiting in the future. Those who feel otherwise and wish to experience The Other Boleyn Girl again or for the first time should do so with this solid Blu-ray disc. Sporting a transfer originally captured in high definition, the results are splendid, despite the film's drab tone and appearance. The lossless sound mix is a good one, and the supplemental materials are more than adequate and informative. While this film is worth watching once, if for no other reason than to see what your personal reaction to these unsavory characters will be, I am recommending it as a rental until the viewer can determine its replay value.
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The Other Boleyn Girl Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sony Announces The Other Boleyn Girl for Blu-ray - April 21, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'The Other Boleyn Girl' to Blu-ray on June 10th, day-and-date with the DVD release. The film stars Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson as two sisters contending for the love of King Henry VIII. ...
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