The Other Boleyn Girl (2003 film)

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The Other Boleyn Girl
The Other Boleyn Girl DVD cover
Based on The Other Boleyn Girl 
by Philippa Gregory
Screenplay by Philippa Lowthorpe
Story by Philippa Gregory
Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe
Starring Natascha McElhone
Jodhi May
Jared Harris
Steven Mackintosh
Theme music composer Peter Salem
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Ruth Caleb
Running time 90 minutes
Budget £750 000
Original network BBC
Original release It was included as an extra on the DVD release of the BBC's The Six Wives of Henry VIII.28 March 2003

The Other Boleyn Girl is a 2003 BBC television film, adapted from Philippa Gregory's novel of the same name. It was re-released on DVD on 6 October 2008, following the release of the 2008 version.


This was a low production budget of £750 000.[1] The film was shot using modern camera techniques and the cast spent four weeks in workshops improvising the script with the director.


The tale follows the history of Mary Boleyn (Natascha McElhone), sister of Anne Boleyn (Jodhi May), second wife of Henry VIII (Jared Harris). Before his relationship with Anne, Henry favoured her sister Mary, who was by then married to her first husband, William Carey, and a lady in waiting to his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. Despite her objections, Mary is forced to become the king's mistress, with her husband's reluctant permission and agreement. Mary asks her husband if she's offended him, and he claims that she hasn't, although Mary despairs that William did not object to the illicit union with the king. In time, Mary confesses what she has done to God, and feel guilty whenever she serves the queen, for the queen knows about the relationship, yet says nothing. Mary soon comes to terms with being the king's mistress, however, and begins to fall in love with the king.

Meanwhile, Anne, portrayed as the younger sister (despite being the older sister in the book) falls in love with Lord Henry Percy, heir to the title of Duke of Northumberland. Lord Henry is already betrothed, either without Anne's knowledge, but it is more likely that she doesn't care. Anne and Henry frequently flirt and kiss, and, despite Mary's warnings, soon consummate their affair when Mary is at the height of her power as the king's mistress. It takes great courage for Mary to literally run to their parents and their uncle, who belittle Anne and tell her that she's made a grave mistake and, despite her beliefs that they are betrothed, that the love of her life is already engaged to the daughter of an earl. The match was made by the king's right-hand man, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, with the king's permission. Fearing that Anne will spoil Mary's relationship with the king, the family plan to send her away, much to Anne's devastation. George comforts Anne, but later leaves with their parents and uncle, while Mary attempts to explain why she did what she did. Anne screams to Mary that she will never forget what Mary has done, before Anne is exiled to the family seat of Hever Castle.

Mary confesses that she is falling in love with the king, and is beginning to enjoy their time together, as well as not feeling remorse that Anne is gone, although she is pleased to have saved her from ruin. Anne, at Hever, says that she misses Henry Percy, and that she doesn't believe that she will ever fall in love again. She devises a plan to be compliant and believes that she will soon be able to return to court. Back at court, Mary readies herself for the king one evening when William, her husband, unexpectedly shows up. He asks her to spend the night with him, but Mary casually brushes him off, reminding him of her duty to King Henry. William asks if she will come the next night, but Mary says she cannot until the king is finished with her. Angered, William goes off in search of another woman to spend his nights with, leaving Mary devastated.

A year passes, and Mary becomes pregnant with what everyone believes to be the king's child, due to her separation from William. Anne is permitted back to court, and tells her father and uncle that she is honored to be there and will serve the family any way she can, although Mary is skeptical of her sincerity. A few days later, the family devises a plan for Anne to distract the king as Mary enters her confinement, and George arranges the introduction while the king is walking with some ladies of the court, including one that aims to be his mistress, possibly Mary Shelton. Anne suddenly interrupts their conversation, reminding the king of her sister, informing him that Mary looks lovely. The king soon takes an interest in Anne, informing her that he finds her more attractive than Mary.

Mary gives birth to a son, also called Henry, but the king only cares for Anne. Mary, devastated, soon leaves court to visit with her son, while Anne takes her place as the king's new mistress. Mary soon returns to her husband William, and they soon have a daughter that Mary names Catherine. Mary says that she is upset that William doesn't seem to care for their daughter. Two years later, William dies from the sweating sickness, while Anne is given new chambers and new gowns at court, and tells Mary that she needs her by her side at all times, and that she must be protected for when the king decides to take their relationship to the next level. Mary, shocked, reminds Anne of Henry Percy, and Anne replies that he was nothing to her, and that Mary is a liar and a traitor if she ever reveals her relationship with him to anyone.

The king hears that Henry Percy's wife is asking for a divorce, and informs Anne of this, informing her that they cannot be together if there was ever anything between her and Percy. Anne forces Mary to lie and say that no betrothal ever existed and, to appease the king, Anne sleeps with him for the first time. The king soon abandons Queen Catherine to a remote castle, and marries Anne, who soon falls pregnant with her first child. As Anne is now Queen of England, Mary being a widow is a good opportunity for her to play matchmaker, and she suggests an elderly lord for her sister. Anne gives birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, and soon her hold on the king begins to slip away, and the king takes a mistress. Behind her sisters back, Mary sneaks away from court to visit with William Stafford, a former servant of her family, who had previously declared his love for her, and accepts his marriage proposal. When Anne hears of this, she banishes Mary from court, telling her that she has disgraced the family and brought shame onto them.

Two years pass and Anne has had two miscarriages, and cannot seem to have a son. In front of all the court, Anne demands to know which woman is the king's mistress, even dragging Cromwell into the conversation. The king, angered at Anne's rude behavior, drives Anne to depart the room, and her uncle follows her, berating her for her behavior. Anne demands respect, and her uncle informs her that she has many enemies now, and Anne yells at him to repent as he leaves her. Later, Thomas Cromwell suggests that the king leave court and journey to Wulfhall in Wiltshire, where the Seymour family lives. The king has a lovely time there, and spends much time with the eldest daughter of the family, Jane Seymour. Back at court, Anne searches the king's rooms and finds an etching of her head being decapitated from her body. Shaken, she goes to find George, begging him to fetch Mary to court. Mary comes that night, and asks what is happening, and Anne tells the both of them that the court wants her dead. Mary asks Anne when she laid with the king last, and said that perhaps if she laid with another man, that Anne could get pregnant. Mary then suggests that Anne and George lay together, but not specifically, so as not to implicate herself. George tells Mary that what she suggests is the darkest thing in all the world, but Anne, on her knees, begs for George to save her. Despite his protests and Mary's fear, the pair of them go through with it.

Anne soon reveals her pregnancy to the king, who is delighted, although many people whisper throughout the court that it is not his child. Some time later, Anne miscarries the baby, and the whole of the court knows that her days are numbered. Men are arrested and taken to the Tower of London on charges of treason, adultery, and incest, and Anne is next. Anne is permitted a final audience with the king, and reminds him that he once loved her, and asks if he will take her away from their daughter. Anne proclaims her innocence, and asks God to have mercy on his soul before departing. Before she is taken by the guards, she bids a tearful farewell to Elizabeth, singing her a childhood song, and the song continues as she is led away.

Mary narrates that all the men were beheaded, and that Anne's death followed two days later. She says that she left court and has the children under her care, and that she is happy as a nobody with William Stafford.



  1. "Scope | Issue 16| Film Reviews". Retrieved 30 December 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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