The Other Boleyn Girl
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJustin Chadwick
Screenplay byPeter Morgan
Based onThe Other Boleyn Girl
by Philippa Gregory
Produced byAlison Owen
CinematographyKieran McGugan
Edited by
Music byPaul Cantelon
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 15 February 2008 (2008-02-15) (Berlinale)
  • 29 February 2008 (2008-02-29) (United States)
  • 7 March 2008 (2008-03-07) (United Kingdom)
Running time
115 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$35 million
Box office$80.7 million

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


Henry VIII of England's marriage to his brother's widow, Catherine of Aragon, has not produced a male heir. Their only surviving child together is a daughter, Princess Mary, whom Henry fears cannot successfully rule as a woman. Meanwhile, Lady Mary Boleyn marries William Carey. Mary's uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and her father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, plot to install Mary's older sister, Anne, as Henry's new mistress, hoping that she will be able to bear Henry a son and improve the family's status. Anne accepts.

Henry is injured during a hunting accident and becomes smitten with Mary, who tends to his wounds. He then invites her, her husband, and the Boleyn family to court. Mary and Anne become ladies-in-waiting to Queen Catherine while William Carey is sent abroad. Mary begins an affair with the King and falls in love with him. Anne secretly marries Henry Percy, a nobleman betrothed to Lady Mary Talbot. Anne reveals her marriage to her brother, George, who in turn informs Mary. Wanting to protect Anne's reputation, Mary alerts their father and uncle, who forcibly have the union annulled, keeping its existence secret. Thomas has Anne sent away to the French court.

Mary soon becomes pregnant with Henry's child. In return, he rewards the Boleyns by giving them new titles and estates, with George being betrothed to Lady Jane Parker, whom he detests. Mary begins to experience pregnancy complications and is confined to bed until the child is born. Norfolk recalls Anne to distract Henry from seeking another mistress. Resentful and jealous that Henry initially preferred her sister, a revenge-driven Anne beguiles Henry by refusing his advances. Mary gives birth to a son, but Anne points out that the boy is illegitimate and, therefore, cannot inherit the throne. Because of this, Henry rejects Mary and does not recognize the child as his son.

Anne continues refusing Henry's advances, and she promises to accept if he no longer beds Catherine and stops speaking to Mary. This infuriates Norfolk until Anne reveals her ambitions to become queen and give Henry a legitimate son and heir. Shortly afterwards, Mary and her child are exiled to the countryside and William Carey dies.

Anne pressures Henry to break from the Catholic Church when Pope Clement VII refuses to allow him to divorce from Catherine. Henry learns rumors of Anne's marriage to Percy; Mary is brought back to the English court but assures Henry that the rumors are false. She decides to stay at Anne's urging.

Henry declares himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. He grants himself a divorce and banishes Catherine from court. When Anne refuses to consummate their relationship until they are legally married, he, overcome with rage and lust, rapes her. Despite being deeply traumatized by the assault, Anne, now pregnant, marries Henry and is crowned the new queen consort of England.

Another daughter, Elizabeth, is born. Henry, disappointed he still has no male heir, begins to see Jane Seymour, Anne's lady-in-waiting, in secret. Anne is deeply hated by the English people, who publicly denounce her as a witch, and she begins to develop paranoia as her marriage falls apart.

After miscarrying a son, Anne fears for her life and begs George to impregnate her. He agrees but is unable to go through with it. Unbeknownst to them, his wife, Jane, is spying on them and reports her suspicions to Norfolk and the King. Anne and George are then both arrested on charges of incest, adultery and treason. Despite lacking evidence, they are found guilty and sentenced to death. Mary rushes back to London, but she’s too late to save George, who is beheaded. Mary begs Henry to spare Anne's life, and he promises to do so since he claims he does not wish to hurt Mary any further. The sisters reconcile, and Anne asks Mary to look after her daughter.

A message from Henry is delivered to Mary. He urges her not to return to court and reveals that Anne will be executed. After Anne is beheaded, Mary takes Elizabeth with her to the countryside.

An epilogue reveals Thomas Boleyn died two years after the executions, Norfolk was later imprisoned and the next two generations of the Howard family were also later executed for treason; Mary remarried a man named William Stafford and lived away from court; and Elizabeth went on to rule England for over forty years as Queen Elizabeth I.



Much of the filming took place in Kent, England, though Hever Castle was not used, despite being the original household of Thomas Boleyn and family from 1505 to 1539. The Baron's Hall at Penshurst Place featured, as did Dover Castle, which stood in for the Tower of London in the film, and Knole House in Sevenoaks was used in several scenes.[7][8] The home of the Boleyns was represented by Great Chalfield Manor in Wiltshire, and other scenes were filmed at locations in Derbyshire, including Cave Dale, Haddon Hall, Dovedale and North Lees Hall near Hathersage.[9]

Dover Castle was transformed into the Tower of London for the execution scenes of George and Anne Boleyn. Knole House was the setting for many of the film's London night scenes and the inner courtyard doubles for the entrance of Whitehall Palace where the grand arrivals and departures were staged. The Tudor Gardens and Baron's Hall at Penshurst Place were transformed into the interiors of Whitehall Palace, including the scenes of Henry's extravagant feast.[7]

Historical accuracy

Main article: The Other Boleyn Girl § Historical accuracy

Historian Alex von Tunzelmann criticised The Other Boleyn Girl for its portrayal of the Boleyn family and Henry VIII, citing factual errors. She stated, "In real life, by the time Mary Boleyn started her affair with Henry, she had already enjoyed a passionate liaison with his great rival, King François I of France. Rather ungallantly, François called her 'my hackney', explaining that she was fun to ride. Chucked out of France by his irritated wife, Mary sashayed back to England and casually notched up her second kingly conquest. The film's portrayal of this Boleyn girl as a shy, blushing damsel could hardly be further from the truth."[10] She further criticised the depiction of Anne as a "manipulative vixen" and Henry as "nothing more than a gullible sex addict in wacky shoulder pads".[10] The film presents other historical inaccuracies, such as the statement by a character that, through marrying Henry Percy, Anne Boleyn would become Duchess of Northumberland, a title that was only created in the reign of Henry's son, Edward VI. Also, it places Anne's time in the French court after her involvement with Percy, something that occurred before the affair. On top of that, Anne was portrayed inaccurately as the older sister in the movie, in real life she was Mary's younger sister. In the film, Thomas Boleyn stated Anne was in France for a couple of months. In real life, Anne was in France for seven years.



The film was first released in theatres on February 29, 2008, though its world premiere took place at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival held on February 7–17, 2008.[11][12] The film earned $9,442,224 in the United Kingdom,[13] and $26,814,957 in the United States and Canada. The combined worldwide gross of the film was $75,598,644,[13] more than double the film's $35 million budget.

Home media

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.


The Other Boleyn Girl (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Released26 February 2008
LabelVarèse Sarabande
Paul Cantelon chronology
The Diving Bell & The Butterfly
The Other Boleyn Girl (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1."Opening Title"2:26
2."The Banquet"0:55
3."Henry Is Hurt"2:04
4."Henry Reruens"2:08
5."Mary Tends To Henry"1:15
6."Going To Court"0:47
7."Mary And Henry"2:13
8."Anne's Secret Marriage"3:10
9."Anne Is Exiled"2:19
10."Mary Is Pregnant"1:04
11."Anne Returns"4:09
12."Anne Charms Henry"2:21
13."Mary In Labor"3:30
14."Mary Leaves Court"1:41
15."My Sweet Lord"0:58
16."Mary Lies For Anne"2:47
17."Queen Katherine's Trial"2:41
19."Anne's Coronation"1:19
20."A Baby Girl For Anne"1:14
21."Henry Wants A Son"2:09
22."Anne Miscarries"2:38
23."Anne Conspires"2:59
24."Anne And George"2:03
26."The Execution"6:14
Total length:1:02:21

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 43%, based on 148 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.30/10. The site's general consensus is: "Though it features some extravagant and entertaining moments, The Other Boleyn Girl feels more like a soap opera than historical drama."[14] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 50 out of 100, based on 34 reviews.[15]

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."[16]

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."[17]

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."[18]

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."[19]

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."[20]

Potential sequel

Production studio BBC Films also owns the rights to adapt the 2006 sequel novel, The Boleyn Inheritance, which tells the story of Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Jane Parker.[21]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  2. ^ The Other Boleyn Girl at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Goodridge, Mike (18 February 2008). "The Other Boleyn Girl". Screen International. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Natalie Portman The Other Boleyn Girl Interview". Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  5. ^ Fischer, Paul. "Bana Takes on Kings and Icons". Film Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  6. ^ "Interview: Eric Bana, The Other Boleyn Girl". Get Frank. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  7. ^ a b Kent Film Office (4 February 2008). "Kent Film Office The Other Boleyn Girl Film Focus".
  8. ^ Gallery: The Other Boleyn Girl BBC Kent website, accessed 7 April 2019
  9. ^ [1] Archived 2011-02-19 at the Wayback Machine Ely cathedral was a major location for the film
  10. ^ a b von Tunzelmann, Alex (6 August 2008). "The Other Boleyn Girl: Hollyoaks in fancy dress". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Berlinale Archive Annual Archives 2008 Programme". Berlin International Film Festival. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  12. ^ Blaney, Martin (18 January 2008). "Berlinaleadds world premieres including The Other Boleyn Girl". Screen International. Retrieved 17 June 2009.
  13. ^ a b "The Other Boleyn Girl (2008) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  14. ^ "The Other Boleyn Girl (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Other Boleyn Girl, The (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  16. ^ Dargis, Manohla (29 February 2008). "Rival Sisters Duke It Out for the Passion of a King". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  17. ^ LaSalle, Mick (29 February 2008). "Review: Sisters face off in 'Other Boleyn Girl'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  18. ^ Travers, Peter (20 March 2008). "Other Boleyn Girl". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2 March 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  19. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (7 March 2008). "The Other Boleyn Girl". Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  20. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev (7 March 2008). "Film reviews: The Other Boleyn Girl and Garage". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 March 2008. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  21. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (9 March 2007). "A royal welcome". Screen International (Emap Media).