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Johansson and Portman as the Boleyn Girls

Movie Info


PG-13 for mature thematic elements, sexual content, and some violent images.


February 29, 2008


Drama and Adaptation


Natalie Portman, Eric Bana, Scarlett Johansson, Kristin Scott Thomas


Justin Chadwick


Peter Morgan (The Queen), based on Philippa Gregory's novel


Sony Pictures, Focus Features



The Other Boleyn Girl: The Wages of Sin

By Hannah Goodwyn Producer - **Spoiler alert!**

The Other Boleyn Girl focuses on the time of King Henry Tudor’s rule in England and his scandalous affair with Anne Boleyn.

Based on the theatrical trailer, many may presume that this film is solely about sex. Although this debauchery plays an integral part in the lives of the three main characters: King Henry VIII (Eric Bana), Anne Boleyn (Natalie Portman), and her sister Mary (Scarlett Johansson), it is not the focus, nor is it the best example of how sin ruins their lives and the kingdom.

As an unsuspected viewer, the clear biblically-supportive themes in this movie astounded me.


Lust. Jealousy. Adultery. Dishonesty. Pride. Betrayal. Greed. Distorted Desire for Power.


Loyalty. Forgiveness. Redemption.

The list of indiscretions far outweighs the number of moral actions, but that’s the beauty of redemption. No matter the offense, a new life can begin. Forgiveness changes everything, not just between two people but also within the soul of the forgiver.

Anne’s innate thirst for power exposed itself when her father, Sir Thomas, and his brother-in-law, the Duke of Norfolk, convinced her that she could beguile King Henry and gain the family royal favor and prominence. In a conversation with his wife, Sir Thomas explained the plan, which earned her immediate disapproval.

Lady Elizabeth: When was it that people stopped thinking of ambition as a sin, and started thinking of it as a virtue?

The story of the Boleyn girls is built upon this belief, that ambitious, power-seekers are virtuous, not sinful. This reminds me of our society today. Most of us are so drawn to power that we’ve become individualistic go-getters. That’s not what God wants.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV)

Selfish ambition brings no greater gain of respect or honor. A lust for power can only desolate your life and those around you, so that in the end you are nothing but a shell of ruins that once stood tall.

Sibling Rivalry: Anne Boleyn's Style

Jealousy enticed Anne to betray Mary by seducing the king. The poison of greed and lust for power ate at Anne’s soul to the point that she turned her back on her beloved sister.

The Other Boleyn Girl shows how the selfishness of a few destroyed a family and prompted an upheaval in the monarchy. In history books, you’ll read what happened to Anne. After being convicted of incest, adultery, and treason, she was beheaded.

In the film version of this dramatic story, Mary didn’t use her friendship with King Henry to make underhanded dealings like Anne did. Mary, the betrayed, sought to mend her sister’s trespasses before His Majesty.

Mary Boleyn: I beg you. Spare my sister.
King Henry VIII: Why are you here for her?
Mary Boleyn: Because she is my sister. And therefore, one half of me.

Instead of becoming bitter, Mary was forgiving. Anne weaved her plan so tightly that he had the king wrapped around her finger, for the moment at least.

After abandoning Mary and his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, Henry began to resent Anne. It was then that she truly realized that his “love” was fleeting. His displeasure with her climaxed when he began to see what he had done to gain her affection. Greed dismantled his marriage, took away his son with Mary, and unsettled his nation. This salaciousness could have been prevented if they had just read James 3:16-17.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from Heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. (NIV)

Generational Consequences

A surprise enters the picture when we learn the outcome of the Duke of Norfolk. Remember, he was the one who orchestrated everything so that Anne, his niece, could seduce the king. His desire for more power cursed his family for generations. The movie’s ending reveals that the Duke of Norfolk was later imprisoned, and his son, grandson, and great-grandson were all charged with treason and executed. This real-life story brings to mind a conversation God had with Moses on Mt. Sinai, as it’s recorded in Exodus 34:6-7.

The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
   “Yahweh! The Lord!
      The God of compassion and mercy!
   I am slow to anger
      and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
   I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
      I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
   But I do not excuse the guilty.
      I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
   the entire family is affected—
      even children in the third and fourth generations.” (NLT)

A sliver of hope does appear in The Other Boleyn Girl through the character of Mary. Her forgiving spirit and unwillingness to participate in sin, in the end, set her apart. Instead of dwelling on the wrongs committed against her in the past, she redeems her future. She was remarried to a good man and lived in the country where she raised her children, along with Anne’s little girl, who was later crowned Queen Elizabeth I.

PLEASE NOTE: The Other Boleyn Girl is only suitable for older teenagers and adults due to the nature of its sexual content.

Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn serves as a producer for and She also writes regularly for these sites. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.

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