"I've heard that court... changes people."
"I'm leaving--court is... different now."
And you know, there were changes that made sense that didn't even bother me. It didn't even bother me, for example, that Lady Boleyn is now a sympathetic proto-feminist, because I understand that they wanted someone to voice modern concerns like, "How can we sell our daughters off like cattle?" We're not privy to Mary's internal dialogue anymore, so I understand that we need someone to voice that, as disappointed as I was that we weren't going to see Kristin Scott Thomas play a fantastic ice bitch; she plays the hell out of Maternal Indignation!Lady Boleyn anyway. I don't really see the point in rearranging the story so that Anne goes after Henry first and then he falls for Mary and blah blah blah, but I don't think the idea was bad per se. I think it was executed badly, but it could have worked. And I knew things were going to get cut--the movie's not even a full two hours, for God's sake. However, here's the kind of entire subplots the movie doesn't have:
>> Mary being Katherine's favorite lady-in-waiting
>> Mary learning to love farming at Hever
>> George being gay
>> George being really inappropriately affectionate with his sisters
>> George actually sleeping with Anne (which, frankly, I was glad of), although he nearly does
>> Jane Parker being a bitchy, hot-blooded sneak (as it is, she's just kind of emo in all of two minutes of screentime that George won't sleep with her)
>> Mary and her husband reconciling
>> Mary's husband dying, or there being any plague at all
>> Mary's daughter Catherine, who now doesn't even exist
>> Mary and William's courtship
>> The court going to Calais
>> Mary escaping court but having to go back because Anne takes Catherine (who doesn't exist now) to the Tower with her
>> Henry and Anne having a hot, volatile, fight-and-make-up relationship
And you know what? That last part bothered me the worst, because you know how Henry and Anne actually end up sleeping together in the movie? I'm going to make you swipe to see this part, because I don't want to upset people who get triggered by things, but: >>HE RAPES HER? WHAT? WHAT? RAPE? WHAT? ELIZABETH IS THE PRODUCT OF A RAPE? HE RAPES HER? ARE YOU SHITTING ME? SERIOUSLY?<< It wasn't necessary, it wasn't historical, it wasn't even in the book, which has a lot of fictionalized unpleasantness unto itself, it's a PG-13 movie, the scene itself is double-plus unpleasant and actually WAY less discreet than the soft-focus sex scenes, and--SERIOUSLY? I cannot get over this. SERIOUSLY. Even Alison Weir wrote in one of her books, and I am quoting this verbatim from memory, I recall it so vividly, >>"Henry was too much of a gentleman to resort to rape," which was precisely how Anne kept him dancing on a string for six years.<< GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
Here's why I'm pissed off, really: there is absolutely no reason this movie had to be associated with the book at all. None of the melodramatic goodness of the book is in it--half the drama of the book is that Mary's loyalties are pulled between (among?) Anne, Henry and Katherine, as well as her family and her two husbands. Movie!Mary doesn't have any growth or awesomeness at all, because she never does anything but come and go when she's told. The only reason she even flees court during Anne's downfall is because Anne tries to convince George to sleep with her (Anne) in front of her (Mary), and Mary is either so disgusted or so (correctly) terrified that shit is about to go down that she rides away in the middle of the night. (And then George and Anne can't go through with it--which, again: thank God. Lesson learned for future movies: Showing consensual incest: baaaaad. >>Rape: A-OK!<<) She spends all of three seconds at
Note: My mother knows nothing about Tudor history except what I've told her. She liked the movie and was surprised that I didn't. "Okay, except for a couple of gaps," she said, when I pointed out that Mary suddenly may or may not have a husband and That Stafford Guy (who isn't even cute) comes out of nowhere. "WHAT ABOUT THE--" "Oh. Yeah. Also that part. That part was... not so good."
That said: Natalie Portman was pretty good. My mother apparently didn't even know who was in the movie, because she totally squee'd when Portman's name showed up onscreen. "I've loved her ever since Closer !" And Eric Bana is better than you'd expect. Scarlett Johansson isn't good, per se, but she's perfectly cast in terms of looks, so I give her a pass. The costumes were awesome, obviously, but I don't think the movie's good enough to push them to Best Costume 2008, although we'll have to wait and see--I think The Duchess will put up a fight, if nothing else does.
Okay. Whew. Now that I've got that out of my system, there's pretty much only one way to recoup two hours watching that clusterfuck. I don't know how long it'll take me, but you'll be the first to know when I'm done.