The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryIt’s a question without a simple answer – which is better, the book or the movie? With so many movies adapted from or “inspired by” a book, it’s a question that comes up often. I think it’s important to remember that books and movies are two very different experiences and it’s not reasonable to expect a movie to be an exact replica of a book. The best movie adaptations recreate the same impressions as the book did while offering a visual treat and sometimes a new perspective to the story.

The Other Boleyn Girl is now in theaters, starring Scarlet Johannsen, Natalie Portman and Eric Bana. It has been adapted from the book by the same title written by Philippa Gregory. This is the story of Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary and their lives in the court of King Henry VIII. The movie is beautifully photographed (the intricate costumes alone are worth seeing), but the timeline of the story has been compressed and many of the nuances found in the book – the discussions of power and ambition, the battle between politics and religion – which give the book so much richness and explain the motivations of so many of the characters is mostly lost. The book vividly recreates the grandeur and claustrophobia of court and is peopled with complex, believable characters that bring Tudor England to life. It is also can’t-put-down dramatic. Gregory has written a follow-up to this story called The Boleyn Inheritance which follows the fates of the rest of Henry’s queens. It is as good if not better than the first book.

In this case, although the movie is worth seeing, I think the book is better.

What do you think, what movies have you seen that were better than the book?

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