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Spin-offs present strong females as new lead character

Posted June. 15, 2021 07:23,   

Updated June. 15, 2021 07:23


Imagine an Ophelia who fights conspiracies or a Wendy who teaches Peter Pan the beauty of aging. New spin-off movies are getting unveiled where female characters previously overshadowed by the male leads are at the center of the show. The movie “Ophelia,” which will be released in July this year, focuses on Hamlet’s girlfriend rather than the man himself. Another film titled “Wendy”, which will be unveiled on June 30, is a novel adaptation told from the point of view of Wendy, who was merely a friend of Peter Pan in the original story. With the “Enola Holmes” having done quite well in the box office last year, a host of movies are coming out emphasizing the independent character of females, who were mostly described as a passive personality.

The movie “Ophelia” reinterprets the original tragic story from Ophelia’s point of view. The story depicts a journey of Ophelia, who falls in love with Prince Hamlet and fights against the controversies surrounding the royalty. The movie “Wendy” looks at the stories of Peter Pan and the children of the Never Land from the female character’s eyes. It is the first movie presented by Benh Zeitlin in eight years since he debuted with his first full-length film “Beast” in 2012, earning Camera d’Or at Cannes and the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

One of the common features of those spin-off movies is that the passive characters from the original stories have been altered into an independent and a strong leader. In the original work, Ophelia was depicted as a vulnerable woman who experiences mental breakdown with a series of tragedies unfolding before her eyes. While she fell in love with Hamlet, the Danish princess ended up killing her father, and after finding this out, Ophelia takes her own life by drowning herself in the river. Once a symbol of misery, Ophelia has turned into a resourceful woman who remains faithful and unwavering in the face of chaotic developments of the story.

The new Wendy is also different than the original character who benignly followed Peter Pan’s orders. Wendy learns to travel to Never Land along with Peter Pan and wishes never to grow old. But as she does grow old, she becomes a person with a strong belief that “aging is a good thing” and advises Peter Pan against trying to avoid aging. “My sister Eliza, who worked on the writing together, found it problematic how passive those females are in the original story,” said Mr. Zeitlin in a video interview with the Dong-A Ilbo on Wednesday. “We’ve reimagined Wendy into an independent woman who always raises her voice on any matter.”

The once overly flat character of villainesses is also being fleshed out into a more multi-dimensional personality. Disney’s new movie “Cruella” is centered around the character who is the main villain of the “101 Dalmatians.” While Cruella was depicted as an obnoxious woman who locked the dogs in her mansion, she has morphed into an entirely different character this time. In the new movie, Cruella is a woman raised by her grandma and ends up becoming a fashion designer despite her poor background, with a big enough heart to take care of stray dogs from as a girl. Released on May 26, the movie Cruella has drawn more than 960,000 moviegoers in South Korea alone as of Monday.

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com