Monday, November 2, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl is a fascinating movie that displays intrigue, sensuality, and romance. This movie is set during one of the most significant time periods in history. This movie begins with Catherine of Aragon who fails to produce an heir for the throne of England. The Duke of Norfolk and his brother-in-law, Thomas Boleyn scheme to bring Anne to the court of Henry VIII as the king’s mistress and possible mother of the heir, in order to pursue her own political goals. But this plan goes wrong when Henry is injured in a hunting accident and Mary; Anne’s sister takes care of her. Mary accepts a position into the court, knowing what will be expected of her, but eventually she falls in love with Henry. Meanwhile, Anne secretly marries Henry Percy, a nobleman, and her sister finds out. She is worried that Anne has ruined her reputation by marrying noblemen without the king’s permission. Mary tells her uncle and father that Anne got married, and they are angry and ashamed of her and exile her to France.
Mary becomes pregnant, and the Boleyn family is ecstatic. But she almost gets a miscarriage and she is told to stay in bed for the remainder of her pregnancy. Anne is then recalled to England to ensure that Henry does not fall in love with another woman, particularly Jane Seymour. Anne then tries to seduce Henry, showing him that she is smarter and more confident than she was. Henry eventually falls in love with Anne, and promises not to speak to Mary, in the hopes that Anne will become his wife. After Mary gives birth, Anne follows through with her promise, and Mary is very upset. But there is a problem. When Henry tries to break his marriage with Mary, the Pope refuses. Anne encourages Henry to break free from the Roman Catholic Church, and Henry does this, and divorces Mary. But the scandal of Anne’s marriage to Henry Percy still remains and threatens her relationship with Henry, until Mary returns to court and lies for Anne, telling Henry that Anne was never married to Percy. Anne then weds Henry and becomes the queen of England. The sisters eventually make up and Mary stays by Anne at court.
Mary has a healthy daughter, but Henry is still unhappy because Anne has not yet delivered a son who will become the heir to the throne. She is desperate and she tries to convince her brother George to have a child with her. He refuses her request, but his wife Jane overhears them discussing this, and becomes suspicious. Her testimony leads to the arrest, trial and execution of George and Anne. Mary comes to court hoping to save her sister, but Henry will not change his mind. He tells Mary to never come to the court again, because the disgrace of her family will result in danger. Mary agrees and never returns.
At the end of the movie, it is revealed that the king did not need to produce a male heir, because his daughter Elizabeth rules the country well for forty-five years.
This movie was very interesting and I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this movie to people, because it was fascinating to learn about the relations and motives of people from back then. It was also interesting to see how much scandal and gossip was involved in communities like this. For women, marrying and having children was a very big deal, and I did not know that such a role in society could lead to a scandal like that portrayed in The Other Boleyn Girl. Henry is portrayed as a bad person in this movie for divorcing and being untrue to his first wife Mary, and for letting Anne be executed for a crime she did not even commit. The women in this movie are displayed as promiscuous and surrounded by drama and gossip.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


1776 is a film that displays the events of the Revolutionary war through a musical. Prior to July 4, 1776, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin are trying to force Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence as they try to persuade the American colonies to support independence from Britain. Large portions of the dialogue and musical lyrics from this movie were actually taken from real letters and memories of people during this time. This movie was extremely entertaining and interesting, but one key question is how historically accurate was this film?
One of the main historical inaccuracies was the fact that the Declaration of Independence was not actually signed on July 4th by all of the congressional members. It is agreed, that the signers put their names on the document at different times. Abigail Adams and John Adams did indeed write letters to each other asking for pins and saltpeter. Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence did include the portion that Edward Rutledge drew attention to. It was about the slave trade, not actually about slavery itself. There is a controversy as to whether or not Jefferson intended to free slaves. The New York delegation did abstain from voting for independence. Historically, there were two votes. One was on independence as proposed by Lee and then the vote approving the Declaration of Independence. New York abstained from both, but the New York legislature did approve it after the fact. Caesar Rodney actually was dying in history. It has been proven that he was dying of skin cancer, however he was not actually on his deathbed in 1776 like the movie portrayed.
Congress did not keep detailed records on the debates that took place during this time, so a lot of the dialogues were written based on educated guesses. According to the movie, John Adams was considered and obnoxious and rude man, but there is evidence that Adams was a very well liked and honorable man. The movie did not depict all of the members present at the congress, because there were more than 50, and this would not have been very practical.
The final historical inaccuracy in this movie was the attitude presented towards slavery. In the movie, after the debate over slavery, the southern delegates walk out to protest the Declaration's denunciation of slave trade, and will only support independence when that was removed from the Declaration. The walkout is fictional, and most delegates actually supported the removing of the clause. Thomas Jefferson was depicted as saying that he has resolved to free his slaves, something he did not do, except for a few slaves freed after his death. Franklin said that he was the founder of an abolitionist organization, but the real Benjamin Franklin did not become an abolitionist until after the American Revolution, when he became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

As Nature Made Him

As Nature Made him was a very well written and fascinating book that told the traumatic tale of David Reimer, the boy who was raised as a girl. Hearing about David Reimer's life, and his real life experiences was very interesting. I have never read about a case like this before, and getting to see how this terrible condition affected David and his family
was traumatic. I never realized the importance that gender plays in ones life, and seeing how crucial it was to David Reimer shocked me. The pain and terror he encountered, due to a seemingly small change was very surprising. The author, John Colapinto provided the right amount of David's story and the right amount of science, to make this book enjoyable, but educational. My favorite parts of the book were the parts that actually told David's story. His relationship with his family, Dr. John Money, and his peers was heartbreaking. These parts were very interesting because these types of cases are very rare, and being able to go up close and see David's emotions and feelings through all of this was great. Another reason I believe I enjoyed this book is because I am very interested in psychology and sociology. Understanding how the brain works, and the controversial topic of Nature VS. Nurture really appeals to me. As Nature Made him really made me think about to what extent the environment we grow up in affects our personalities. In David's case, this was not at all true. He was dressed as a girl, received toys that only girls would play with, and overall told he was a girl growing up. His environment was not the problem, especially with Dr. John Money constantly convincing him that he was indeed a girl. Despite all of this, David still felt like he had two identities. The girl that he was supposed to be, and the boy that he always knew he was. One portion of the book that I did not enjoy was Dr. Money. David's parents being desperate to save their son, resorted to him, and I believe this was the worst possible thing they could have done. Dr. Money made David even more confused about his sexuality, and tormented both him and his brothers. I completely disagree with Dr. Money’s teachings, and principals, and his blunt and rude way of stating things. He should not be a doctor or psychologist, because they are supposed to be helpful and the effect that he had on the Reimer's life was miserable. This book can be applied to the real world. There are ethical dilemmas associated with this topic. From a religious viewpoint, some people believe that God has created people a certain way for a reason and this should not be messed with. But for the people who have to live with two identities everyday, it is very difficult, and can potentially destroy their lives. There are plenty of people dealing with the same thing as David Reimer (although it may not have to deal with genitalia). Sexually confused people now have a hope with gender reconstruction surgery, and scientists are learning and researching more about the psychological effects that this switch may have with them. These new discoveries and research will allow these people to live happier comfortable lives, in which they are confident with their true identities.

The Patriot

“The Patriot” is a historical fiction movie based on the events that took place during the American Revolution. The movie did an excellent job of creating and entertaining yet informative to way to display the American Revolution; however there were a few historical inaccuracies found through out the film. The first historical mistake was the brutality displayed by the British regulars. In the movie, this was overdramatic. For example, in one scene, the British order the execution of a colonial soldier captured in uniform. War crimes like this rarely happened in actuality. The only war crimes that did indeed occur were the hanging of Nathan Hale, Major John Andre, spies, and traitors. Both sides followed the general rules of war and were not extremely violent unless necessary. Another mistake in the movie was the scene in which all of the people in the entire town are locked in a church, which is set on fire. In actuality, this was a nazi war crime, and never occurred during the American Revolution.
In “The Patriot” it appeared as though the battle was Americans VS British, and the only colonist fighting on the British side was viewed as an oddity. However, in reality, approximately 1/3 of the colonists were loyal to the British Crown, 1/3 were against the British, and 1/3 were neutral. This is why the Revolutionary war is sometimes referred to as a civil war, with communities and families split as patriots or loyalists. Another mistake in the movie was the use of the American flag. The American flag was not even invented at that time, and was therefore used to make the war scenes more dramatic. Also, the declaration made by George Washington that the slaves who fought for the continental congress would be freed was fictional.
Most of the characters in this movie were also fictional, with the exception of General Cornwallis. The Patriot showed four of the five battles that actually occurred in the real war. Everything depicted in the battles was mainly factual except for a few minor details. For example, in the Battle of Camden, the movie shows the Continental Army losing against the British due to their traditional methods of fighting. However, this army was made up of 2/3 militia, so it was not the continental army that fled, but rather the militia. The weaponry displayed in this movie was also mainly factual. However, the cannons used in this movie used metal projectiles, and those were not yet invented.
The final misconception seen in this movie was that the militia alone prevented the British from heading North. But after the battle of Camden, the army retreated to North Carolina. There was no one left behind from the continental army to stop the British.
Overall, this movie was accurate in the time frame, and events that happened in the actual Revolutionary War. However, like most movies, certain things needed to be overdramatic in order to keep the audience interested.