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Movie Review

The Other Boleyn Girl a.k.a. “Deux soeurs pour un roi,” “L’ Altra donna del re,” “Die Schwester der Königin,” “A Outra,” “I Alli eromeni tou vasilia,” “Boleyn kizi,” “Deux soeurs pour un roi,” “Um Rei Duas Irmãs,” “Králova prízen,” “Kuningattaren sisar,” “La Otra,” “Teine Boleyni tüdruk,” “Las hermanas Bolena”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content and some violent images

Reviewed by: Jennifer Constantine

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Drama, History, Romance
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
February 29, 2008 (wide)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures and Focus Features

What does the Bible say about adultery? Answer

Royalty of the Bible: Kings / Queens / Princes

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Natalie Portman (as Anne Boleyn), Scarlett Johansson (Mary Boleyn), Eric Bana (King Henry VIII)
Director: Justin Chadwick
Producer: Mark Cooper, Alison Owen, Jane Robertson, Scott Rudin
Distributor: Columbia Pictures and Focus Features

“The only thing that could come between these sisters… is a kingdom.”

The History of the Tudors of England has fascinated historians (and regular people like this reviewer) for centuries. Henry and his six wives, as well as the struggle for the throne after his death is anything but humdrum, and so it seems rather a shame that “The Other Boleyn Girl” sees the need to take more than a little creative license with facts—changing something here, deleting another there, adding to spice up…

If you go in knowing nothing of the real history behind the movie, you will come away with a somewhat distorted picture of what really happened. The actress playing Catherine of Aragon (Anna Torrent) is beautiful, but we know from portraits that by the time she had endured several miscarriages and Henry had started looking to a mistress to provide a male heir that Catherine was overweight and middle-aged. If we take the story literally, we come away thinking that Elizabeth-I who eventually succeeded Henry was the product of rape. Henry certainly had many faults; do we need to add rapist to the list, without any substantiating evidence?

Then there is Mary Boleyn, whom very little is known about. We do know that she gave birth to a son named Henry, who historians agree was most probably Henry's. The entire story about a rivalry between her and sister Anne is, at best, speculation, as is the rumored affair Anne had with their brother George.

On the spiritual side, other than the aforementioned rape and discussion concerning incest, there are many things that viewers may find offensive. One is the sex scenes. Although the only nudity is Henry (Eric Bana) shown bare-chested, most of the scenarios are not between husband and wife, but are adulterous. Marriage is taken very lightly.

Selfish ambition is not shown in a positive light, but Mary seems at times to judge Anne for her betrayal, when in reality, Mary has done the same thing to Catherine.

In another scene Mrs. Boleyn states that God has turned his back on the situation, which we know from scripture is not true:

Psalm 139:8 states: “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”

Scarlett Johansson does a god job as Mary, but it is really Natalie Portman who shines in her final scenes as Anne Boleyn.

I don't, however, recommend this movie, since the sex and violence are gratuitous and not even historically accurate in all cases.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Negative—Despite the fact that this is a film based on historical truth, it has no redeeming moral character to it. It does show that sin causes pain and death and to remain true and guiltless can win happiness, BUT it doesn't prove that well.

It's a very ugly and poorly acted/directed depiction of a tragic and horrible story of the past. I would not call this a family movie nor one that is worth telling for history's sake. Painful to watch and a really blah ending.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kate, age 36
Negative—This was an extremely offensive movie and I would not recommend it to anyone and DEFINATELY not children or teenagers. It contained such things as immorality, rape, infidelity, lying, cheating, deception. It had to be one of the worst movies I have ever seen. There was no speck of truth or decency within the entire movie. What struck me most about the father in the movie was, a father can destroy his family with his bad choices just as easy as he could bless his family with his good choices. Also this movie speaks the golden rule very loudly, what you do to others and how you treat them will come back to you. There is no value, no fuzzy feeling to walk away with. You feel mad and cheated by the contents of this dark movie. I do believe the only reason I was allowed to see this movie, was to warn you not to see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Sandra Doucet, age 35
Negative—I very closely agree with the official reviewer for this site about this movie. It reminded me of my feelings for Titanic (Leonardo DiCaprio). It seems to me that if you are going to do a film about a true story, you should stick to facts. What really happened is far better/more interesting than what the writer(s) came up with for this film and Titanic.

Much of the story was not convincing as true, especially the parts that were obviously left to artistic license rather than actual fact. This was a film about a bunch of people with no redeeming qualities to their character, even Mary. There were large chunks of time glossed over or skipped and some important questions left unanswered, rendering the basic story line unsatisfying.

The sex was graphic enough for me to not want to watch and the violence, though not shown outright, was still quite disturbing. Overall, the acting quality had bright moments, but was overall poor. I was never convinced these sisters either loved or hated each other. Brother George was good and Kristin Scott Thomas was also quite good. Natalie Portman did a very convincing job at the end and a few other places, but lacked substance elsewhere. The costumes were great. I do not recommend spending money to see this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Kate, age 36
Negative—I went to this movie on opening day. I thought it was about two sisters Ann and Mary. who were in love with the same king. The kings wife could no longer give him an heir. The dad and uncle of the two girls thought if Ann could seduce the king, they would have favor and social status with him. They arranged for the king to visit. While on a hunting party he hurt himself. Mary was told to take care of him. The king wanted Mary instead of Ann and her dad told her she was to go stay at the castle. While Mary is in bed waiting to deliver his child, Ann is told by her dad and uncle to seduce the king. She makes him fall in love with her, get rid of his wife and mary her. She has a daughter and at one point is so desperate to have a son, asks her brother to sleep with her so she can get pregnant.

This movie was rated PG-13. I was disgusted by this movie mostly because the dad was so eager to sell his daughters. The only values he showed them is money, social status.

I used to love going to the movies, but it's hard to find, even PG-13 movies that don't take the Lord's name in vain or show terrible values.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Linda, age 48
Negative—I had read the above reviews when I first heard about this film, and I (in a moment of weakness) desided that I would risk seeing imoral scenes just because I wanted to see a historical movie. I told myself 'I can always look away when there is a bad scene', so I spent $20 on the movie. But when I watched it, my face got all red and my concience was smating!! The sex scenes were very seductive, very long, and highly imoral! Even though it didn't show any sexual part, you saw enough! And they want to rate this movie PG-13, it should have been rated R!! 13 year olds don't need to being seeing trash like this! By 13 you're going through hormons and look what kind of stuff you putting in front of them—a desire which could lead to premarital sex!!!
To tell you the truth, I was smarting with embarrasment, guilt, and shame. I had placed an idle (history) before God. Truly does the Bible say “worldly pleasure only last for a little while, and then it is gone.” I burnt my movie as soon as I could!
In my opinion, the acting was great, the plot good, and the story moderatly accurate, but it was all ruined by the amount of godless diplay of the sins of mankind—adultery, fornication, lies, trickery, and incest! One good point though—the ending—“for the wages of sin is DEATH”!! It's one thing to read a history book or watch a documentry on this subject, another to read a novel or watch a movie on the same subject.
I, as a follower of Christ warn my fellow christian family to abstain from ANY desire to watch this film, and especially thoes (who like me LOVE history). Don't make the same mistake I did.

My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Maureen, age 18
Neutral—I am not a fan of the novel on which this film is based; in fact, I absolutely hate its one-sided perspective of Anne Boleyn as a ruthless manipulator, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed “The Other Boleyn Girl” on film, due to some massive changes. If the movie had been true to Gregory's vision, it would have included homosexuality and incest; in that regard, I feel audiences got off rather lightly. The historian in me was appalled at the inaccuracies, as well as the fact that Henry's break from Rome (thus creating the Church of England, and the advancement of Protestantism) is only touched in a single line of dialogue, however, it is very easy to become lost in the emotional range of the story, and in that sense it is memorable.

From a purely moral standpoint, the film has a lot of issues, but I do not feel the adultery is in any way glorified. Lady Elizabeth, the mother of Mary and Anne Boleyn, even states several times that she takes no pleasure in knowing her daughters are “playing the whore to a public adulterer.” Her insistence that “God turned his back on all of this a long time ago” was not to me indicative of God's abandonment of England, but His displeasure in the moral corruption transpiring within the king's household.

It painted the plight of Queen Katharine in a very sympathetic light, and underlined strongly that Anne's actions—driven through her desire to manipulate the king sexually, and get all she could out of the relationship (two things directly contradicted by scripture)—were wrong, so horribly wrong that it backfired on her and led to her ultimate humiliation and death. The content is strong enough that I would not encourage younger viewers to see it; the rape was not excessively graphic but the audience knew what was happening and that makes it horrific. It offended me that the film implied Elizabeth was a product of violence rather than love, but that horrible scene also compelled the last half of the film, since it indicated their marriage was over before it even began. Two people cannot share a life where there has been only manipulation and resentment between them.

It may not be a pleasant or easy film to watch in certain regards, but I think the underlining messages and impressions it leaves behind are valuable to the discerning viewer. Just don't consider it a history lesson, because it's not.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Charity Bishop, age 24
Neutral—There is a reason why this movie is so little on history and much on conjecture. It's based on a book which is pure soap opera and no real history. Hence the movie makers simply went with that and all the silly rumors and myths that have built up over the Tudors. Don't take this movie as fact!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Rachele, age 33
Neutral—This review is broken up into 3 parts. First, the FILMMAKING. Breathtaking costumes, sets, music, and acting. The characters were completely believable in their roles and the casting was superb. Every detail is in place, right down to the jewels on the headcoverings. Beautiful film!

Secondly, the STORY. This is a complicated story, that is easy to follow. Moving at an even pace, it reveals each person's motives at precisely the right moment in the story. I found myself wonderfully surprised by the dialogue at every turn, not knowing which way the story was headed. I love that!

Finally, my CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE. This is most definitely an adult movie. I would not recommend it for those under 18, due to the graphic scenes of sexuality (some non-consensual and incestuous). Most importantly, this film is ALL ABOUT ADULTERY. There is not one example of pure Godly marriage. The adultery is spoken of as “dutiful” and “necessary” for the pleasure of the king, and the future of England. But behind the scenes, there is an under-current of distaste, which constantly reminds you that you are not the only one who is disgusted by this behavior. Most of the characters are disgusted as well, which keeps you from walking out. As you watch the unfolding of events, you soon realize that you are witnessing the birth of the Church of England as it breaks it's chains from Rome and the Catholic Church, a fact that is slightly hidden as sub-text.

Historically, the role of young women during this time period was one of possession and borderline slave. As a Christian, I love films that transport me to another time and remind me how blessed I am to live in America, in this day and age, as a FREE woman… who is FREE to choose Christ as her Lord! If you enjoy historical fiction, and can stomach the above content, then I would recommend the film. If you aren't sure, don't see it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Diana O, age 39
Positive—My husband and I went to see this movie the very first night it came out. I love English history so these types of movies fascinate us. I have to admit when I read the critics comments I was a little skeptical, but we pursued the film against all odds. When the film first began, it started off a little slow but to my surprise the film turned out to be really good. I was really surprised by all the negative reviews this film received. Yes, from a christian point of view all of the lies, sex, betrayal and adultery are morally wrong. But you have to remember we are talking about King Henry. Maybe the writers did add a little more to the story to spice it up, but it made the film so much more enjoyable to watch. It's just like the Bible everyone has a different version but it all comes down to what is right. This film was so worth my time and money. If you pay attention to the story itself you see how Queen Elizabeth came to the throne (not the Queen now). The history is wonderful, how many of us knew about The Other Boylen Girl? Great movie would definitely recommend it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Tracy, age 33
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was *awesome* I saw it with my sisters and yeah it was like great. I would totally recommend it. The “sex scenes” are very minor, not even full nudity, and their pretty brief. Other than the fact that Natalie Portman is slightly annoying, she played her part well as well as Scarlett. They both conveyed the right attitudes for the parts they were playing. I'm not sure how accurate it was with history, I'm not a history buff but even if it wasn't it was a great movie. It showed a great theme of forgiveness and how sin messes things up. And how lust can blind you, how jealousy can destroy relationships and how forgiveness and loyalty is worth it in the end. I would recommend this movie, there was nothing wrong with it at all. GO SEE IT!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Hailie, age 17