Sunday, April 26, 2009

Goodbye to Anne

When I was a young teenager, seances were always part of the agenda for slumber parties, and Anne Boleyn was the number one person we tried to raise. I'm not the only one who has been fascinated by this woman over the past five hundred years. She has shown up countless times in fiction, opera, movies, plays, poems, ballet, painting, etc. She is currently back in the limelight with popular series, The Tudors, which was almost coincident with the movie version of The Other Boleyn Girl.

Here's my previous post on The Tudors.

I'm now in the middle of season 2 of The Tudors, and Anne is in the Tower, having just watched the executions of her brother, favorite court musician, Sir Henry Norris, Sir William Brereton/Sir Francis Weston (I think The Tudors merged these two together).

Having watched a number of HVIII movies, I'm overall pleased with how Anne is portrayed in this one. Certainly vivacious and ambitious, Natalie Dormer did a superb job of portraying Anne's sinking into paranoia due to the stress of being married to HVIII and daughter to Thomas Boleyn. I liked how The Tudors version of the story stressed her fall being due in some significant measure to her quarrel with Cromwell regarding how the money the crown obtained when the Catholic institutions were ransacked was used. I don't think any of the other film/video versions covered this much if at all.

There are many candidates for villain in this series--with HVIII leading the pack, along with Wolsey, Cromwell, even Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk--but I think the prize for the one playing the villain most consistently and without mitigating circumstances goes to Thomas Boleyn.

While Anne's uncle, Duke of Norfolk showed up earlier in the series, I don't remember seeing him much, if at all, in recent episodes, leaving up to Anne's fall--I think the writers pretty much gave Thomas Boleyn all the credit for manipulating HVIII and Anne into the path that they took.

The Tudors paints a much more sympathetic version of Anne than I have seen in awhile. She is shown as a complex person, not merely an attractive monster who flew too close to the sun.


  1. I agree that the Duke of Norfolk seemed to take a bit of a backseat in The Tudors. I also agree that The Tudors did portray a more sympathetic version of Anne, although they still seemed to show a dark side to her - the poisoning, the hatred of Catherin and Mary, her vindictive tongue etc. I thought that Natalie Dormer was brilliant as Anne because she played her as feisty, intelligent, passionate and captivating. The delivery of the execution speech was a fine performance.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Claire. I love your site:

    I think there's no doubt that Anne had a dark side, but part of the fascination, I think, is that she also completely captivated (i.e., bewitched) HVIII, and reconciling that fact with her fall makes her one of the most interesting people in history.

    Looking forward to the execution speech. Coming on Netflix probably next week.

  3. Hi Jane,
    Thanks for commenting on my site too and adding a link. I'll add your site to my wiki site as a recommended literature site.
    I love your site and I love literature. I was lucky enough to grow up near Stratford-upon-Avon and so have seen many of Shakespeare's plays performed and went past his birthplace all the time. I also love Jane Austen - particularly Northanger Abbey and, of course, Pride and Prejudice. Do you like "Gothic" novels like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Bram Stoker's Dracula? I love them. It's funny when you think that Northanger Abbey and some of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels are "gothic" too.

  4. P.S. See YouTube for Anne's execution speech.

  5. Claire - I do like Gothic novels--Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, certainly, and Dracula was fantastic. I'm visiting Whitby in June (it's after Haworth and Stratford on the itinerary) and I'm planning on taking the Dracula tour. Gaskell definitely has her dark, Gothic side. It's been so long since I read Dorian Gray - ought to put that on the reread list.

    Thanks for the suggestion to utube AB's speech. What a resource that is!