Having had the better part of five days to think about the film adaptation of The Other Boleyn Girl and the time to read the reviews of other bloggers and movie critics, I feel that there needs to be some discussion about the rape scene. The more I think about it, the more appalled I become. I don’t believe it ever happened and portraying such an act is a disservice to those who had no previous knowledge of Tudor History.
In reality, Henry and Anne’s courtship was about 6 years old before they were married and it was only several months beforehand that they were sexually intimate. While I’m certain that there was something about Anne that fueled Henry’s fire, for her to have kept his interest for that long before the relationship was consummated, there had to be something else there for his desire, there was more to their relationship than just sexual attraction. If his primary goal was to have her, he would not have waited a minute let alone five plus years. Anne was an intelligent and astute woman. She knew that the chase is what kept Henry interested. Still, she knew exactly when the opposite was true. Anne was many things, but she was not a victim. She desired the throne of England and she worked and manipulated her way to just that spot. What she did not take into account was the difficulty in keeping Henry without a male heir. This was a difficulty she created for herself. Had she not gone to the lengths to support the separation of England from the Roman Catholic Church she may never have been Queen of England, but she probably would have kept her head. There is no way to be sure, but I can’t imagine her not being aware of that. I think that Natalie Portman did an excellent job portraying how quickly Anne Boleyn went from having it all to constantly worrying about losing it all.
So why did the movie choose rape as the vehicle for the consummation of Henry and Anne’s relationship? The only rational explanation I can come up with is that the film did not deal with the length of their courtship. It wasn’t just washed over, either. At the end of the movie when Mary‘s children were frolicking in the fields with Elizabeth, Elizabeth was very close in age to Henry Carey. Since they eliminated the time and struggle involved with breaking with the Roman Catholic Church, they needed another device to explain Anne’s pregnancy at the time of their marriage and her coronation. This bothers me. Henry was no saint, but he still deserves honest treatment.