Sunday, 29 March 2009

Minor Quibbles: The Other Boleyn Girl

I would give a pass to some of the stuff from the Other Boleyn Girl. But nevertheless there are several errors... and, for those of us who've really learned to notice detail, some absolute howlers. Like this one:

Oh, Scarlet. Pull your sleeves up. Why can't you be civil like those Spaniards in the background? I've never heard of bare Renaissance shoulders, and you're mixing regions too. Those slashed puffs at shoulder, wrist and elbow look more German landsknecht than Tudor England. The gap at the front of the overskirt should not be nearly that wide. Also, the bodice seams look wrong to me. I combed through portraits of the era and it looks like they should be further to the sides of the gown. This picture of Mrs. Pemberton, c. 1640 is grainy, but you can clearly see the seams beneath the arms. And Jane Seymour's are at the sides of the bodice front, not so near the bust. Seams are not visible at all in most portraits, and they would be if people had placed them the way they did in this movie. I'm not seeing any examples of contrasting bodice fronts, either; these show up around the middle of Elizabeth's reign.

Oh dear. The French Hood, though portraits show many variations, was never just a headband with a little stickyuppy thing (and why is Mary wearing one? She never spent time in the court of France!) Little slashed cap sleeves are Elizabethan, not Tudor... and slashes of the type used here are once again more like German gowns than like the type seen in England. Even if that's the look they were going for, the fabric beneath the slashes ought to be white. The choice of print is strange and looks very modern compared to the stylized foliate stuff they were using back then. And are those lacings I'm seeing on the bodices? The Tudors did not use bodice front lacings!

I love your green dress, Anne, but sleeves of light satin without trim that goes all the way around the neckline look sort of odd. You should start them higher, make them out of something heavier and give them wider cuffs (like this). You might want to consider a pointed waistline, too. But then, I suppose accuracy would be less soft and flowing and omg romantic!

What's that strange layering at the shoulders? Why all the puckered seams? Is that a pleated underskirt I'm seeing? And who thought olive drab was a good idea?

Oh, and I have found no evidence for matching Tudor bathrobes.

In fact, the whole 'twin sisters' costume schtick is fucking stupid. It doesn't ring true. When Mary's winning Henry over, she should have money pouring at her from all sides. The family should be dressing her up in good brocade and loading her down with jewellery — because she's a commodity and they want to hype her just like Hollywood hypes movies. And when he turns around and porks Anne, she should become the glittery one while poor Mary's left moping. I really didn't see this happening, unless you count switching Mary from yellow satin to brown satin. And what does Anne get for her troubles? One paltry necklace? This movie makes her a manipulative bitch, so wouldn't she hold out for more than that?

I've come to expect very little from Hollywood, and (sad to say) I'm overjoyed when a period piece contains nothing fugly or totally batshit. And it's true that real Tudor gowns don't seem lyrical or romantic to modern eyes -- the skirts are stiff and the sleeves are enormous -- so I can see why they took liberties. I even have a shameful fondness for that jade green dress and would wear it to the kind of Ren Faire that doesn't check your authenticity at the gate. For SCA, though, it's right out. Unless you're in the Hawaiian chapter, which doesn't give a rat's ass if you show up in a red satin chemise and a crushed velvet surcoat.


  1. personally, I like the olive green tones used for Anne's gown, however, I too noticed the unnecessarily layered sleeves, and as for the over-puckered seams on the bodice, I think that was a VERY poor choice; it makes the middle of the bodice appear to be bulging out and overtaking the lighter color on the outer gown. In other words, it makes her look overweight, trying to fit into a tiny gown :/

  2. I liked the olive/moss green too. But the rest of the gown was pretty horrid.