The Other Boleyn Girl (2008 film)

The Other Boleyn Girl (2008 film)

Infobox Film
name = The Other Boleyn Girl

caption = Original poster
director = Justin Chadwick
producer = Alison Owen
writer = Peter Morgan
Based on the novel by Philippa Gregory
starring = Natalie Portman
Scarlett Johansson
Eric Bana
Jim Sturgess
Mark Rylance
Kristin Scott Thomas
Ana Torrent
music = Paul Cantelon
cinematography = Kieran McGuigan
editing = Paul Knight
Carol Littleton
distributor = Columbia Pictures
released = February 29, 2008 USA
March 7, 2008 UK
runtime = 115 minutes
country = UK
language = English
budget = $35 million
gross = $72,336,463 (Worldwide)
website =
amg_id = 1:353424
imdb_id = 0467200

"The Other Boleyn Girl" is the 2008 British drama film directed by Justin Chadwick. The screenplay by Peter Morgan was adapted from the 2001 novel of the same name by Philippa Gregory. It is a romanticized account of the lives of 16th-century aristocrats Mary Boleyn, one-time mistress of King Henry VIII, and her sister Anne, who became the monarch's ill-fated second wife.


When Catherine of Aragon fails to produce a male heir to the English throne, the Duke of Norfolk and his brother in law Thomas Boleyn scheme to install the latter's elder daughter Anne in the court of Henry VIII as the king's mistress and potential mother of his son, thereby furthering their own political ambitions. Their plan backfires when Henry, injured in a hunting accident indirectly precipitated by Anne, is nursed by her sister Mary and becomes smitten with her. With great reluctance, the recently married Mary and her husband William Carey agree to accept positions in the court, knowing full well what will be expected of her. Separated from her spouse, who is sent away on an assignment by the king, Mary finds herself falling in love with Henry.

Rebellious Anne secretly marries betrothed nobleman Henry Percy and confides in her brother George, who tells Mary about the elopement. Concerned that Anne will ruin her reputation by marrying a nobleman without the King's consent, she alerts her father and uncle of the union. They confront Anne, who argues that the marriage has been consummated and what is done before God cannot be undone, and she is exiled to France in disgrace.

The Boleyn family's fortunes seem to be secured when Mary becomes pregnant. When she nearly suffers a miscarriage, she is confined to bed for the remainder of her pregnancy, and Norfolk recalls Anne to England to keep Henry's attention from wandering to another rival, particularly Jane Seymour. Anne successfully embarks on a campaign to seduce Henry, revealing herself to be more sophisticated and accomplished than she was prior to her exile. By withholding her sexual favors, she ensures the king's continued interest, finally making him promise never to bed his wife or speak to her sister in exchange for her giving him hope of eventually possessing her. Anne exacts this promise just after Mary gives birth to the much-anticipated son, making Mary's triumph hollow.

The ambitious Anne encourages Henry to break from the Roman Catholic Church when Pope Clement VII refuses to annul his marriage to Catherine. Henry succumbs to Anne's demands, declares himself the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and divorces his wife. The scandal of Anne's brief, secret marriage to Henry Percy threatens her forthcoming marriage to the king until Mary, out of loyalty to her family, returns to court and lies on Anne's behalf, assuring Henry her union with Percy never was consummated. Anne weds Henry and becomes Queen of England. The sisters reach a reconciliation and Mary stays by Anne's side at court.

Despite the birth of a healthy daughter, Elizabeth, Henry is unhappy with Anne's failure to deliver a son and legitimate male heir to the throne. After she miscarries their second child, a now desperate Anne asks her brother George to try to impregnate her. Although he ultimately refuses to grant her request, his neglected wife Jane witnesses enough of their encounter to become suspicious. Her testimony leads to the arrest, trial, and execution of both George and Anne. Mary returns to court to plead for her sister's life, but Henry refuses to intercede. He warns Mary never to come to court again, because her family's disgrace could result in danger to her as well. Mary fulfills her last promise to Anne and takes care of her infant daughter.

The closing captions reveal that perhaps the king should not have been concerned about his failure to produce a legitimate male heir, because, ironically, his daughter Elizabeth served her country well for forty-five years.


In "Translating Henry to the Screen", a bonus feature on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter Peter Morgan discusses the dilemma he faced in adapting Philippa Gregory's 600-page novel for the screen. He ultimately decided to use it as a broad guideline for his script, which Gregory felt perfectly captured the essence of her book. Morgan says he never thought of either Anne or Mary as the "other" Boleyn girl, since the epithet applied to both at different phases of the story.

Gregory was employed as an historical consultant for the film. She was impressed by Scarlett Johansson's commitment to the historical accuracy of her role. She recalled, "When I got on set it was like a reading group. The whole cast and set were reading not just "The Other Boleyn Girl" but the rest of my Tudor novels, too. Scarlett's copy of the book is broken-backed and it's marked on every page. She's continually going to the writer and director and saying, 'Let's look at this, let's do it this way.'" [ [ "Thaindian News", March 8, 2008] ]

Filming locations included Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire; Bude in Cornwall; Penshurst Place, Knole House and Dover Castle in Kent; Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire; Haddon Hall in Derbyshire; and Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire. Interiors were shot in Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire and Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.

The costumes were designed by Academy Award-winner Sandy Powell, and John Paul Kelly served as the production designer.

"Nara" by E.S. Posthumus, the music used in the film trailers, is the main theme of the American television drama series "Cold Case".

The film premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival. It premiered in London on February 19, 2008 but did not go into theatrical release in that country until March 7. On February 29, it opened on 1,166 screens in the US, earning $8,203,061 and ranking #4 on its opening weekend. It ultimately grossed $26,814,957 in the US and $45,521,506 in foreign markets for a total worldwide box office of $72,336,463 [ [] ] .


*Natalie Portman ..... Anne Boleyn
*Scarlett Johansson ..... Mary Boleyn
*Eric Bana ..... Henry VIII
*David Morrissey ..... Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk
*Mark Rylance ..... Thomas Boleyn
*Jim Sturgess ..... George Boleyn
*Kristin Scott Thomas ..... Elizabeth Boleyn
*Benedict Cumberbatch ..... William Carey
*Oliver Coleman ..... Henry Percy
*Ana Torrent ..... Catherine of Aragon
*Eddie Redmayne ..... William Stafford
*Juno Temple ..... Jane Boleyn
*Iain Mitchell ..... Thomas Cromwell
*Andrew Garfield ..... Francis Weston
*Corinne Galloway ..... Jane Seymour
*Bill Wallis ..... Archbishop Cranmer

Critical reception

Veteran academic and broadcaster David Starkey, author of several best-selling factual accounts of the Tudor royals, was among those who criticized the casting of an American (Johansson), an Israeli-American (Portman) and an Australian (Bana) as historical British figures. Johansson responded that her only reservations about the filming concerned the melodramatic storyline [ [ "Daily Mail", September 1, 2006] ] .

The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 40% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 90 reviews [ [] ] , while Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 51 out of 100, based on 32 reviews [ [ Metacritic. com] ] .

Manohla Dargis of the "New York Times" called the film "more slog than romp" and an "oddly plotted and frantically paced pastiche." She added, "The film is both underwritten and overedited. Many of the scenes seem to have been whittled down to the nub, which at times turns it into a succession of wordless gestures and poses. Given the generally risible dialogue, this isn’t a bad thing." [ [ "New York Times", February 29, 2008] ]

Mick LaSalle of the "San Francisco Chronicle" said, "This in an enjoyable movie with an entertaining angle on a hard-to-resist period of history ... Portman's performance, which shows a range and depth unlike anything she's done before, is the No. 1 element that tips "The Other Boleyn Girl" in the direction of a recommendation ... [She] won't get the credit she deserves for this, simply because the movie isn't substantial enough to warrant proper attention." [ [ "San Francisco Chronicle", February 29, 2008] ]

Peter Travers of "Rolling Stone" stated, "The film moves in frustrating herks and jerks. What works is the combustible teaming of Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, who give the Boleyn hotties a tough core of intelligence and wit, swinging the film's sixteenth-century protofeminist issues handily into this one." [ [ "Rolling Stone", March 20, 2008] ]

Peter Bradshaw of "The Guardian" awarded the film three out of five stars, describing it as a "flashy, silly, undeniably entertaining Tudor romp" and adding, "It is absurd yet enjoyable, and playing fast and loose with English history is a refreshing alternative to slow and tight solemnity; the effect is genial, even mildly subversive ... It is ridiculous, but imagined with humour and gusto: a very diverting gallop through the heritage landscape." [ [ "The Guardian", March 7, 2008] ]

Sukhdev Sandhu of "The Telegraph" said, "This is a film for people who prefer their costume dramas to gallop along at a merry old pace rather than get bogged down in historical detail ... Mining relatively familiar material here, and dramatising highly dubious scenarios, [Peter Morgan] is unable to make the set-pieces seem revelatory or tart ... In the end, "The Other Boleyn Girl" is more anodyne than it has any right to be. It can't decide whether to be serious or comic. It promises an erotic charge that it never carries off, inducing dismissive laughs from the audience for its soft-focus love scenes soundtracked by swooning violins. It is tasteful, but unappetising." [ [ "The Telegraph", March 7, 2008] ]

DVD release

The film was released in Blu-ray and DVD formats on June 10, 2008. Extras on both editions include an audio commentary with director Justin Chadwick, deleted and extended scenes, character profiles, and featurettes. The Blu-ray version includes BD-Live capability and an additional picture-in-picture track with character descriptions, notes on the original story, and passages from the original book.


External links

* [ Official website]

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