Wonder Woman (2017, Patty Jenkins)
I’m not the first woman/person to fall in love with this film but the reasons maybe different to others.
To give you a bit of context, I was in a life threatening car crash a year ago and am in recovery now. I have PTSD and am receiving help with it. The crash happened two weeks before I finished my last year of University studying film. I managed to finish my degree later and graduated in November. As I am restricted from doing a lot of things, due to hopefully temporary disability from the crash, film is something I can still enjoy and seek out.
I studied it at University so I love it! I want to to become a screenplay writer but so many films have car crashes, therefore I can’t see them without having flashbacks and panic attacks. I was angry for a while about how Hollywood treated car crashes, they use them for “entertainment” value or to further a plot. I’ve found in dramas if the main characters are in a car three times, on the third time there will be a crash but two days later they will have a scratch on their forehead and that’s that. I can tell you that’s not what happens. I Google films to see if they have a car crash in before watching them, it decreases the amount of films I can watch as car crashes aren’t just in action films but comedies, dramas and family movies. They’re everywhere. So my enjoyment of film has diminished and thought for a while I would of spent all this time, effort and money into an education that I wouldn’t be able to use. Then I watched Wonder Woman…
Wonder Woman is a family entertainment film that I can actually watch without any anxiety at all. This seems simple but it isn’t, I’m anxious when the actors get in a car as there’s always a reason to why they are and it’s usually for a crash.
Wonder Woman doesn’t just calm me but it empowers me. I didn’t just feel mentally empowered but my whole body felt power like I haven’t for so long. I’m constantly exhausted but during this film it was as if my body woke up. I felt like I could mentally and physically do anything, I haven’t felt that in while. There were four times I felt this during the film; the first was seeing the first time Diana was fighting in the training ground against Robin Wright. The choreography in this film is beautiful, it’s not like most Hollywood films of very quick shots and not being able to see the action but it uses slow motion, long shots and lets the action speak for it self. It reminds me of Jackie Chan non-Hollywood films, he talks about it as a dance, and in a dance you want to see every step, not see a small part of it and needing editing to make it better.
The second was the fight scene on the beach and seeing Robin Wright fight. I love everyone on social media commenting that it’s nice to see your favourite Princesses turn into Generals about Robin Wright and Carrie Fisher. Seeing an older beautiful woman fight and have an important role in the film as a mentor was inspiring.
The third was the no man’s land scene as there could of been a cheesy and awkward line saying “I am no man” when she’s told no man can go up there and would of lowered the whole scene. Instead it demonstrates great filmmaking and storytelling of showing not telling and having respect for the audience as they will understand whats happening. It wasn’t about walking into a physical battle field but about how people weren’t taking her seriously, she had to put her strong morals in to power and so had to take no man’s land. This was the point the others saw what she could do and followed her.
The final scene was the fourth empowering moment, when she’s at her lowest moment, her boyfriend has just died and she can’t defeat Aries. Her realising she’s gone against her moral values and found the answer of goodness and love with in people after Aries tried to manipulate her whilst she was enraged with grief for Steve. When she realises this and walks with power and purpose to defeat Aries in slow motion, that’s how I want to walk down the street, I want to over come this rage, sadness and anxiety and walk with pride again as myself.
The film had other points that I loved, it was also nice seeing a woman be funny not only Diana, especially saying “men aren’t needed for pleasure” which got a loud laugh in the cinema and think everyone woman took pride in that, but Steve’s secretary; Etta who was funny but also apart of the plot.
Diana is the superhero the world needs; she’s smart, strong and morally responsible, unlike a lot of superheroes she is emotionally intelligent. She is naive and innocent that does mean she gets herself into trouble but that shouldn’t be seen as a negative, it means she’s a complex female character, finally!
Diversity in this film was good, Wonder Woman herself is played by Gal Gadot who is from Israel and her loyal team is made up of people of colour. I enjoyed the commentary on Hollywood about Sameer wanting to be an acting but wasn’t the right colour to be. Also apart of Diana’s team was Charlie who was clearly suffering from PTSD, it was great to see someone struggle with their mental health when they are still trying to help and empower themselves after seeing Wonder Woman. That’s important part of the film, a lot of things happen because of what Wonder Woman says or does and other people listen and take action because of her. Plus it’s always nice to see the white man die for a change.
During this film I cried three time not because I was sad but I felt so empowered, proud and excited to see this character on screen. I also cried in the car on the way home just thinking about the film.
After watching this film I felt like I could do anything, the past year I have just been told my restrictions, I can’t do this, I have to do this. I walked out of that cinema feeling like what happened to me wasn’t a limitation it was something to learn from and walk forward with it, empowering myself, helping myself and others. This film has given me a safe place that I can go and actually escape from everything for 2 hours, like films are supposed to do. The only other film that has done that for me is Moana another film of a POC woman helping herself and others to find peace, plus the whole film is a metaphor recovery after trauma.
I’m not saying this film is perfect, I’m saying it is to me but even then you can have constructive criticism of it. As someone who studied film, the only way to learn and improve is through criticism. Imperfections are what make’s films charming though, I don’t care if a film is not perfect as a film is a reflection of real world, so it won’t be perfect.
It felt like some of the critics where nervous about critiquing the film due to its theme, which isn’t the point of critics. I do see some flaws such as it only just passes the Bechdel test as even if women were talking to each other they are usually talking about a man. Though this is a double edge sword, when they talk about men it is about the evil and corruption they have done. For the next film I’m hoping there will be more interaction between women, whether it be friends, villains or lovers…
The female villain (Doctor Poison) wan’t used enough, there should of been a scene between Diana and her but I’m hoping they bring her back in another film and this was her backstory.
Most of all I want to say thank you to Patty Jenkins for many reasons. For proving to Hollywood and the world that female directors are a force to be reckon with, they are directors who can create something visually beautiful, well performed, profitable but most of all go down in history. I also want to thank you for making a safe and powerful film that I can enjoy and learn from.
All these thoughts I have expressed are not new, but the fact I and so many women are confirming them shows what this film has done.
Wonder Woman is a family entertainment film and for me it’s hard to be entertained without anxiety, so it may not be the “perfect” film but to me it is.