A Royal Disaster?

February 17, 2008 at 11:38 am | Posted in Books, Film, Henry VIII, Historical Fiction, Philippa Gregory | 4 Comments
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The Other Boleyn Girl was my introduction to modern historical fiction, Philippa Gregory, and my beloved Tudors.  When I heard the news that a film based on TOBG was in the works, I was thrilled.  It was a such a powerful read and I was hopeful that it would make a wonderful movie.

It didn’t take long for people to start crying foul.  Simon & Schuster released a mass market paperback version of the novel featuring the cast of the movie and people started arguing that Philippa Gregory was a sell out for allowing this to happen to her novel.  I don’t have any strong opinions about book covers.  I’m not sure how much control Gregory would have had over this publication as I would think that was part of the movie rights deal.  If I were an author, I don’t think I’d turn down movie rights just because of any associated mass market paperback.  Besides, it really is a great book.  If throwing Scarlett, Natalie, and boob-grabbing Eric on the front cover encourages others to read it, what difference does it make? The grumbling about the book cover didn’t affect my anticipation.  When the trailer was released, I got even more excited.

Recently, the first review of the movie has been posted on Rotten Tomatoes.  I’m not familiar with Emanuel Levy‘s movie criticism, but his review touched on the fears many have had since the movie was announced:

British TV helmer Justin Chadwick makes a disappointing feature debut in “The Other Boleyn Girl,” a hybrid of a trashy period melodrama and a stately Masterpiece Theater episode, resulting in a kitschy film that can’t decide how much to exploit its juicy text about King Henry VIII and the various women in his life.

…Indeed, due to its plot’s twists and turns, this costume meller might have benefited from a longer treatment, a mini-series, rather than a saga that rushes from one preposterous event and climax to another.

Still, there are plenty of movies that I loved that didn’t catch on with the critics.  While I’d prefer the movie to be a success with the critics, I’ll hold my judgment until after I’ve seen the movie.  It’s very possible that Mr. Levy and I will disagree with each other.

What is truly concerning me is the latest news from the red carpet.  On Fox News this morning I was greeted with the following sensational headline:

Portman, Johansson Share Steamy Red Carpet Kiss

Ladies and Gentlemen, has it ever been a good sign when stunts like this pop up while promoting a film?  Perhaps I’m jaded, but these types of kisses are not spontaneous when done in front of cameras.  It also doesn’t fly with me that this happened because Natalie is tired of being seen as boring.  My guess is that people are panicking.  If the movie is horrible, historical fiction fans will not be stampeding to the box office.  They’ll need to pull in the young male audience.  How better to do that than to have photos of Scarlett Johannson kissing another woman?

My heart is heavy, but I will still go and see the movie on Leap Day.  My hopes and expectations are now very low.  Maybe this will prevent me from feeling as disappointed when I leave the theater as I did after seeing Elizabeth: The Golden Age.  I didn’t write a follow up to that post because I was hoping that my utter disappointment was due to lack of sleep.  That won’t be the case with TOBG.  I’ll post my review as soon as I’ve seen it.



your loyal historical fiction and film guinea pig…



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  1. After seeing the trailer for the first time, I was a little concerned. It seemed to be a bit, um, steamy.

    (And after working in publishing I can tell you that the author *rarely* has control over the book covers, especially after the first edition runs. I’m fairly positive it would have all been rolled into the movie deal if the publishing company retained the right to sell the movie rights. I could blather on here about it, but won’t 🙂

  2. I am so glad that you commented on this. It’s nice to know what I figured was true probably is. Check out the article she wrote (I linked to it in my post today). I’d be interested to hear what you have to say about it.

  3. […] now I will be sitting in the theater watching the film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl. Despite my reservations, I’m starting to get excited. I’ve even talked a co-worker of mine into taking a half […]

  4. […] now I will be sitting in the theater watching the film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl. Despite my reservations, I’m starting to get excited. I’ve even talked a co-worker of mine into taking a half […]

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