The Other Boleyn Girl: Movie vs. Book

The Other Boleyn Girl Trailer:After both reading and viewing The Other Boleyn Girl, I’ve definitely noticed many differences between the two.  Obviously, there are multiple details in a novel that can’t be transferred to a movie due to time limitations.  Often the most difficult part of making a movie based on a book is trying to relay the main points of the original story while keeping the whole thing moving along at a good speed.  With that in mind, I typically try to base my feelings on a movie in the same vein, accepting that not everything in the book can be covered in the movie.  Unfortunately, even with keeping these things in mind, the movie version of The Other Boleyn Girl failed to meet my expectations.

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Initially, we have to consider the title.  True to its word,  the novel version of The Other Boleyn Girl focuses on Mary Boleyn.  Although Anne is certainly more sensational and remembered by history, it was refreshing to read about Mary, who was definitely more altruistic and a relatable character.  Obviously next to Anne almost anyone would look extremely moral considering what Anne did to hold on to her position as Queen, but I truly believed that Mary was a good person who had a good heart and wanted a better life for herself outside of court.  Yes, it is easier to follow the story of Anne as it is more astounding, but I really enjoyed Philippa Gregory’s use of Mary’s point of view to tell the story.  The movie, however, skipped this almost entirely.  Mary’s history with King Henry is glossed over in favor of Anne’s tirades with the King, and we’re left to view Mary wistfully looking after Anne as she flirts with the King while she “lies in” as she prepares to give birth to her child.  To me, when the movie focused on Anne it missed the point of Gregory’s motives behind the book.  She aimed to highlight Mary, and the movie just pushes her aside in light of her sister.

Another huge point that was missed by the movie was Mary’s flirtation and subsequent marriage to William Stafford.  After all the disappointment in Mary’s life, I was glad to see that Stafford brought happiness and escape to Mary’s life.  He was exactly what she was looking for, although he was of a lower class than she.  The movie largely glossed over this relationship, and it really made me wonder about how the movie was constructed.  To me, their relationship seemed to be an essential part of the story, allowing Mary to escape from her confines in court and be truly happy.  To ignore this part of the story would be ignoring a foundation of the story.

Therefore, considering these major points, I feel that there were differences between the movie and the book that were unfortunately too large to reconcile.  The fact that Mary’s life was largely ignored in the movie was quite disappointing, especially considering how interesting of a character Mary was.  I was disappointed, as I found myself really invested in Mary’s story.  Despite this, I encourage you to definitely try the book out!  It’s great historical fiction and a great story.  You can read my review of it here!

3 out of 5 Stars

The Other Boleyn Girl
Focus Features (2008)
PG-13, 115 Minutes
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3 thoughts on “The Other Boleyn Girl: Movie vs. Book

  1. Didn’t you realize that in the movie, Mary is just magically single again to marry stafford? Like what happened to her husband?

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