The Other Boleyn Girl About the Production

Based on the best-selling novel by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl is an engrossing and sensual tale of intrigue, romance, and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in history. Two sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn, are driven by their ambitious father and uncle to advance the family's power and status by courting the affections of the king of England (Eric Bana). Leaving behind the simplicity of country life, the girls are thrust into the dangerous and thrilling world of court life -- and what began as a bid to help their family develops into a ruthless rivalry between Anne and Mary for the love of the king.

Initially, Mary wins King Henry's favor and becomes his mistress, bearing him an illegitimate child. But Anne, clever, conniving, and fearless, edges aside both her sister and Henry's wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, in her relentless pursuit of the king. Despite Mary's genuine feelings for Henry, her sister Anne has her sights set on the ultimate prize; Anne will not stop until she is Queen of England. As the Boleyn girls battle for the love of a king -- one driven by ambition, the other by true affection -- England is torn apart. Despite the dramatic consequences, the Boleyn girls ultimately find strength and loyalty in each other, and they remain forever connected by their bond as sisters.

About the Story

To their father, Sir Thomas Boleyn, Anne (Natalie Portman) and her younger sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson) are precious commodities whose personal lives must be carefully managed so as to yield maximum financial and social benefit for the family. Convinced that Anne has the potential to attract a suitor of superior standing, Sir Thomas turns down a marriage proposal from a merchant family and offers them Mary instead.

Sir Thomas soon sees a golden opportunity to exploit Anne's beauty and wit when his brother-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, arranges a visit to the Boleyn household by King Henry VIII. Aware that Queen Katherine has been unable to produce a male heir and Henry is on the prowl for a mistress, Thomas instructs Anne to do her best to make a favorable impression on the monarch. Henry is immediately intrigued by the brazen young woman, but Anne proves too headstrong for the ruler,who turns his attention instead to the sweet-natured and equally lovely -- though recently married -- Mary.

Deeply enthralled, the king summons the entire Boleyn family -- including mother and father, Norfolk, both Boleyn sisters, and their brother,George -- to the Royal Court for the express purpose of making Mary his lover. Sir Thomas and the Duke of Norfolk are delighted at this turn of events -- and even Mary's passive husband dutifully agrees to the dubious arrangement -- but Mary, a simple country girl at heart, has no interest in the life of a courtier. Anne, still stinging from the king's rebuff, seethes with silent anger toward her sister. , Taking her future and fortune into her own hands, Anne elopes in a forbidden, secret marriage, but this is quickly discovered by Mary, who informs the family. They send Anne to France, banishing her from Henry's court.

Despite her initial reluctance, Mary soon finds herself deeply in love with the tender and attentive Henry. She becomes pregnant with Henry's child, and all is well, until her difficult pregnancy confines her to bed rest and the king's romantic interest in her wanes. When Sir Thomas summons Anne to return to court to entertain the king, it is the moment Anne has been waiting for. Just as Mary and George find their positions at court starting to slip, Anne, still bitter, plots to seduce the king and to exact revenge for what she sees as her sister's unforgivable betrayal.

First, Anne taunts her sister over the long-held grudge and persuades Henry to cast Mary and the newborn child out of court and back to her destitute husband in the country. With Mary out of sight, Anne begins to play out her clever scheme to become not only the king's mistress, but his queen. She withholds sex from Henry, demanding that the king annul his 20-year marriage to Katherine, send her away, and marry Anne. Henry demurs -- because divorces are not allowed within the church, such a move would require a split with the Pope and likely spur an invasion by forces loyal to Rome.

When news of Anne's brief secret marriage surfaces, that one loose thread threatens to unravel the entire plan. The calculating Anne calls upon the only person she knows she can count on, summoning Mary back to court. Mary, seeking peace with her sister, tells Henry that he can trust Anne, and the king, convinced by the other Boleyn girl, marries Anne, who is now pregnant with his child. Anne has won -- she is crowned Queen of England.

But Anne's victory comes at a high price. Henry's controversial marriage to Anne proves more than simply a scandal in court; the repercussions of Henry's split with Rome push England to the brink of war. The king is left feeling disgusted with himself and his new bride, and with the eyes of the world on his court, Henry knows he can avoid humiliation only if Anne produces a son.

When Anne's first pregnancy results in a girl and she covers up the miscarriage of a second pregnancy, the king's patience with the Boleyn family reaches an end. Anne, Mary, and George, at the mercy of a vengeful king and a pitiless court, are stunned when their father and uncle sacrifice the children in an attempt to save themselves. In the end, with the executioner's sword waiting for Anne, there is no one but Mary willing to speak for her, and this time, even Mary's words cannot save her sister. Nevertheless, it is the unending bond between sisters that becomes Anne's final solace.

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