A three-episode mini-series of “Anne Boleyn” appeared on the British Channel 5 channel. The project, which was directed by Scottish BAFTA nominee Linsey Miller , focuses on the last months of the life of the famous English queen with a tragic fate.
“Anne Boleyn” was at the center of scandals even before its release. The thing is that for the main role, the authors invited a dark-skinned actress Jody Turner-Smith. Because of that they were accused of distorting the history.
After the release of the project, it received extremely low ratings from many viewers. As of this writing, the Anne Boleyn / IMDb rating for the series on IMDb is 1.1. This is lower than the most critically acclaimed films of Uwe Boll, often called the worst director of our time.
But at the same time, many people honestly write that they berate the project solely because of the choice of actress. An indicative comment on IMDb, where a user criticizes the show, but admits to having watched only a few minutes of the first episode. Others have not even turned it on at all. And besides the color of the main character’s skin, there is a story and visuals in “Anne Boleyn.” Perhaps we should pay attention to them as well?
Dramatic fantasy on the theme of history
Each episode of the series begins with the phrase “Based on truth … and lies.” By doing so, the writers partially absolve themselves of responsibility for deviating from the real facts. Although here one gets the feeling that the gimmick was copied from “The Great One” with Elle Fanning. And the comedy had a similar caveat more to it.
The plot is entirely tied to the personality of Anne Boleyn herself. The camera almost always follows the heroine, the emphasis is not so much on the events as on her feelings and reactions. And as a personal drama, the series works quite well. On the queen literally one disaster after another: she loses a child, can not sort out the relationship with her husband and worried about the political situation.
And, most importantly, there is an air of doom throughout the action. Already during the credits they say that the heroine has only a few months to live. And in the finale of the first episode, she says bluntly: “Nothing can save me now.”
And you have to admit that with the elaboration of secondary characters in the series a big problem. If the comedy “The Great One” was transforming almost all the characters into grotesque idiots, in the drama the Queen’s entourage seems as ridiculous as possible. Even Thomas Cromwell looks timid and always mumble gruff. In reality the politician was quite resolute and blunt.
The theatricality of the action
Like many other British historical series, Anne Boleyn resembles a stage production, except with more visual possibilities.
This also partly explains the overly theatrical acting by Jodie Turner-Smith. The camera often shows her face close-up, the heroine is silent for a long time. And yet the costume designers obviously gave a lot of space in the design of the queen’s clothes: literally in every scene flashes a new unusual dress.
Alas, apart from the main character, there is no one else to be remembered in the series. Even Mark Stanley and Barry Ward as Henry VIII Tudor and Cromwell, respectively, more often seem like extras. Although there is no doubt of the experience and talent of these actors. The remaining characters in many dramatic moments freeze in place, as in the theater.
Despite the simplicity of the production, there are some successful visual finds. The first episode shows the gruesome murder of a horse. The second episode begins with a scene in which the heroine wakes up with tears on her face. Then the camera changes the angle, and the viewer is reminded without words of the reasons for her tragedy. But such moments are still the exception. Most of the show is shot in standard close-ups and medium shots. And editing sometimes cuts off a scene too abruptly, flipping to another location of the action.
An ambiguous image of the main character
Of course, the theme of choosing an actress for the role of the queen cannot be avoided. Jodie Turner-Smith herself claims that the writers of the series wanted to tell a story tied to personalities, eliminating the question of race. But you can hardly shake off the idea that there’s a not insignificant element of provocation in such a move. Even most of the promo shots for the project are just static images of Anne Boleyn, as if the plot and entourage did not matter.