A Wonderful Hero

As a birthday treat on Thursday I went to the cinema with a friend to see Wonder Woman this week. I may have been turning 43, but inside I was as excited as an eight year old on Christmas Eve. The trailers and early reviews had more than piqued my interest, and although it was a clear departure from the Linda Carter TV show I had loved as a kid, it seemed to perfect for 21st century me.

I can report that I absolutely adored it. I was been amazed, enthralled and at times emotional. On several occasions I had to stop myself from the breaking the Wittertainment code of conduct, of standing up and whooping my enthusiasm.

The film is truly kick ass. The scene of Diana rising into No Man’s Land and taking the brunt of the German attack, was just one of many balletic pieces that both had your pulse racing and your eyes wide in awe. But the action was always essential to the plot, and though spectacular was never gratuitous or over-extended (see Man of Steel, where the last 20 minutes were just an unending borefest of punching back and forth. It ruined that film for me).

I know there have been some criticisms of the relationship between Diana and Steve, that it was disappointing for a strong female lead to be influenced by her affection for a man. However, as a proud feminist I don’t agree. I don’t want to give away any plot spoilers, but this element is an important character arc. If humanity are intent on slaughtering each other in their millions, why should she help them? To counter balance the violence and cruelty, you have to show the romance and tenderness.

I thought it was delicately played out, and far from compromising our hero actually made her more well-rounded. The bond between the two seemed genuine, and she didn’t save the world because of her love for a man (as suggested by some). She saved the world to allow love to conquer hate, and there is nothing reductive about that.

(Lets not forget than male superheroes usually have a this kind of emotional subplot – Captain America, Iron Man, Superman).

And isn’t it amazing that in 2017 we have a cinematic hero who is not only brave, strong, determined with super strength and lightning speed; but also kind, compassionate, affectionate and caring.

I love this film. I love the character Gal Gadot, Patty Jenkins and the writers have created. It has been long overdue, and I can’t wait to see it again.


Suffragette: Radicalisation and a story that needed to be told

As a feminist and an admirer of the suffragette movement, I was really excited to see the Suffragette film on the week of it’s release. I had read and admired their stories, and was hoping to come away feeling inspired and uplifted. These were the women who paved the way, in whose footsteps I walked, of whom I was sure I would have stood with 100 years ago.

However I left the cinema emotionally drained and rather stunned. The cold, brutal reality of what these women went through, the reasons behind their drive for the vote and equality, completely engulfing my thoughts. This was no celebration, no story of their march to victory. The truth for women in the 1900’s was sexual abuse and exploitation, violence against them which was rarely punished, no rights over their children along with the poor pay and atrocious working conditions.

They had no voice, and that meant not that they were second class citizens but they were barely citizens of the world at all.

This is what they were fighting for, WHY they were fighting. And after decades of peaceful protest, debates and promises they were no better off. So they upped their game.

Would I have throw stones and blown up pillar boxes? Knowing the unfair justice system, the harsh prison conditions? Its so hard to say; like many women I may have been too exhausted and beaten down to take up the fight. But those who did, those Suffragettes, were all the more amazing for it.

The film tells an important, nay vital moment in this nation’s history, and the script brought to life the rhetoric normally just written on the page. The performances were excellent, from the superb Carey Mulligan to the brilliant Brendan Gleeson, meaning I didn’t just watch the drama, I felt it.

I knew about the force feeding and the events on Derby day, but that didn’t make them any easier to watch. And for me the central story of Maud, wasn’t just about that of the working women of the time, but of radicalisation itself. And not by the Suffragettes; but the police, the prison system, society at large and even her own husband. To punish, exclude and alienate leaves you will nothing left to lose. You take risks you never would have considered before, and highlights why dialogue should always be an option.

This film will continue to stay with me. I’m sure I will return to it many times. It was long overdue, and badly needed – so many people of this country just didn’t know the story. I was never taught it in school, and so much of the history had been suppressed.

The power of a good movie, is to take dry facts and events from history and make you care about the people living through them. And because you care, you remember. Now this story will be spoken about, it will become part of our collective memory and people will want to know more.

And as many in the world are still fighting for their rights, and facing harsh oppression, it is unfortunately still relevant today.