Thursday, January 01, 2004


Most of you who read this blog regularly know that I'm a history buff and an absolutely stickler for accuracy. I've been watching a miniseries on Elizabeth I from the BBC, rented from the library, and so far so good. Yesterday though, when I walked to the library, I decided to forgo getting the next tape in the Elizabeth series and got Nicholas and Alexandra instead, the 1971 version of the Robert K. Massie book with the same title. So far, the reviews seem okay.

In movies, I'm better with inaccuracy than I am with books and I'm not quite sure why that difference exists for me. For instance, I adore the movie Anne of the Thousand Days, a biography of Anne Boleyn. Granted, it's highly inaccurate at the end. For instance, Henry VIII never came to see Anne in the Tower before her execution nor did Anne ever have a dream that her daughter, Elizabeth, would ever be queen. There was no reason for Anne to tell Henry that Elizabeth would be queen . Anne already knew (or suspected) that wife number three would be Jane Seymour, and she'd already seen what had happened to daughter number one, Mary, so she could hardly expect better than that for Elizabeth. So those two things at the end of the movie were highly inaccurate -- Henry coming to see Anne and then Anne's proclamation that Elizabeth would be queen. Also, the scene where Mary is at the deathbed of her mother, Catherine of Aragon, is also untrue; once the King's Great Matter began, mother and daughter were separated and never saw each other again. And I won't even say anything about a dark-haired actress playing Mary, as portraits clearly show Mary as a blond in early life and then hair darkening to a nice chestnut brown; indeed, both Henry and Catherine had blond/reddish hair. But. Still, I very much enjoyed the movie and both Richard Burton and Genevive Bujold (the original Janeway) did a fabulous job.

I also thought the movie Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett had its historical inaccuracies, but not being as up on Elizabeth (other than the fact I'm pretty sure Robert Dudley was not, in fact, anything more than a platonic best friend) as I am on the travails on Henry VIII, I let some of those go as well.

I'm currently rereading Margaret George's " The Autobiography of Henry VIII and it's funny how a little extra knowledge can taint your reading experience. The first time I read this, I had no idea about Richard III and what he was all about. So I accepted the Tudor view that he was a Bad, Bad, Bad man. However, reading a second time through, it's harder for me to accept that view. However, it is accurate for that time period, so I can't quibble with George about that. However, despite rereading this book, I have not forgiven her for what she did to poor Mary Magdalene.

"Nicholas and Alexandra" is two videos long so it'll take me all weekend to watch this movie. I'm going to make an attempt to enjoy it on its merits, as a film for a mass audience, and not to look too deeply into it. Other than the Tudors, the last Romanovs are another family I know much about it. So we'll see how this goes.

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