Ask A Wench – Which Movie Character Would You Like to Be?

Merida-in-Brave-Nicola here with this month's Ask A Wench. For our question this month we’re trying to decide which movie character we would like to be. When we discussed this amongst ourselves this raised some interesting questions. Would we go all out in pursuit of adventure or would we prefer something more reflective of our own lives? What makes a super-hero(ine)? What qualities do we admire and would like to possess, on screen or in real life or both? The Wench thoughts on this are below. But what would your dream movie role be?

For me this is a difficult choice. My first inclination would be to take the part of a historical Yoda character such as Elizabeth I or Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion In Winter. However since I’d be playing the role and not the actual historical character this would probably be frustrating because I’d want to depict them as I see them, not as the part was written. I’m going for Yoda for two reasons. Firstly I love the way he constructs his sentences. He always gets his point across yet sounds poetic at the same time. Also, he is measured and wise and as I get older I value wisdom very highly and I would like to be more measured in my response to things sometimes. Yoda combines all this with agility, courage and skill with a lightsaber, plus he is keen on encouraging the younger generation to achieve their full potential – quite a role model.

Wonder_Woman_(2017_film)Mary Jo: What movie character would I be?  Well, since Nicola has dibs on Yoda, I think I'll go for Wonder Woman.  Not just any of the decades-long evolving version of the character, but specifically the current manifestation as played by Gad Godot. 

I admit that I'm blending both role and actor together.  Israeli Gal Godot was not only Miss Israel 2004, but during her tenure in the Israeli Defense Forces, she was a combat instructor.  She said the military was learning about discipline and respect–and aren't they great traits to have?  Her Wonder Woman is powerful as well as beautiful, both idealistic and wise.  Gad Godot has also studied law and international relations. What a role model!

But give me half a chance and I might choose go for Princess Leia.  In the original Star Wars
movie, she shows up as a gravel-voiced rebel leader, kicking ass and taking names and far more competent than her male acolytes, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.  She was not a female character we'd seen before, and while Carrie Fisher, who played her, is now sadly gone, Princess Leia has become a cultural icon.

Anne: I always find this kind of question — one with lots of enticing choices — difficult to answer. Umbria Will I choose to be some fabulous heroine, living an extraordinary life, having adventures with a handsome and charming hero?  No. So exhausting, having adventures. And besides, Cary Grant is dead.

So I'm choosing to be Maggie Smith's character in MY HOUSE IN UMBRIA. It's similar enough to my life, in that she is a romance novelist, but she lives in a beautiful and luxurious house, in a stunningly lovely part of the world, and her clothes in this movie are gorrrrgeous.  Chin chin.

Sister ActPat: I am a wimp. Give me a good comedy or maybe a nice character study, but I never watch action movies with bigger than life heroes. Give me Marian the Librarian or a singing nun, please (not just Maria in Sound of Music but how about Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act?). My idea of a super heroine is a good librarian handing out culture, creativity, history, and education every day. Or a teacher trying to make kids THINK when all they want to do is arm wrestle. But I'd make a lousy librarian or nun. So maybe I should aim for the romance writer in Romancing the Stone? At least she got out of the house.

Jo: I wanted to say Xena, because I can really get into that Warrior Princess stuff and I’d like living in a Greek Mythos world. Kinda.
Then I noticed Xena isn’t a movie person. She’s a TV series. Rats.

My mind kept tossing up good choices and I kept batting them away. “That’s a Book!” I’d yell. “Book. Book. Book. Book. Book! Give me movies!” You see my problem.

Then it came to me. What would I like doing? I am not a woman given to bounding over the Wench marple 3 countryside, jumping on a horse, and setting off to battle demons whose halitosis alone would fell a Roman legion. I am not, in short, Buffy. Or even Willow. Confronted with Evil — note the upper case to say it’s a bad evil — my immediate impulse is to murmur “You do you, okay?” and back away to seek expert help.  That aforementioned Legion, perhaps. I’m more an “I’ll track ‘em down. You stomp on them.” kinda gal.

So. Jane Marple.
That’s me. Going through life, knitting and murmuring, “​Well, you know, Inspector, this poisoning reminds me of little Bobby Fisher in St Mary Mead.”

Andrea/Cara: I love the theme of strong women developing here! Okay, I’m not really sure I’d have the courage and determination to be this movie character, but I’d choose to be Katherine Johnson in the movie Hidden Figures, which is based on her true-life story. Johnson was a a brilliant African-American mathematician who went to work as a “computer” for NASA during the 1950s. With grace, wisdom, composure and quiet self-confidence, she overcame the dual prejudices against her race and her gender (NASA was a very high-testosterene place) to win the acceptance and ultimately the admiration and respect of all her colleagues. In those early days, the complex calculations for orbit trajectories and re-entry angles were done by individuals, using only an adding machine. The lives of the astronauts were literally in the hands of the “computers.” Johnson was so impressive in meetings that’s said that John Glenn refused to get in the capsule for the first U.S. space flight to orbit the earth until she okayed the numbers. She's a real-life super hero, an inspiration and role model for believing it’s possible to reach up and touch the stars.

Susan: So many great choices! Which movie character would I want to be? Wonder Woman and Princess Leia would be among my picks … though I would also love to inhabit the characters of Lady Isabeau in Ladyhawke, or Merida in Brave. Both are strong female leads with courage, cleverness, integrity, compassion and heart–and both must find their own strength of character to face up to supernatural power. 

Ladyhawke IsabeauIsabeau's inner beauty glows even more than her outer beauty–her compassion and love for Navarre surpass everything for her, even her own life. What she endures, under the magic spell that makes her a hawk by day and a woman on her own at night, helps her discover true courage and independence, so that she is finally able to stand up to the evil and hatred that would have destroyed her and her love, and she steps forward as Navarre's true equal as well as true love. Movie or not, I think I could live as Isabeau, finding happiness at last … and it would be amazing to fly as a hawk! 

Princess Merida in Brave is all that I love in a medieval Scottish heroine–strong-willed, independent, spirited, yet aware of the needs of others and capable of facing her fears, admitting mistakes and changing for the better. She's a fun, feisty, and adorable heroine, fearless and a bit reckless, handy with a bow … and that great mane of curly red hair is gorgeous. An added bonus, if I could be Merida, would be the chance to live in the wild Highlands — and someday (because Merida is a young heroine) find the perfect kilted, brawny, wonderful hero to share romantic Highland adventures….

So there you have it; a whole host of different takes on movie characters and what would make us want to step into their shoes. Now it’s over to you! Which movie character would you like to be and why?

Brave: Creating a modern fairy tale

Cat 243 Doverby Mary Jo

Once upon a time, full length animated movies were largely the province of Walt Disney, and the classics like FANTASIA and BAMBI and ALICE IN WONDERLAND were released ever few years so new generations of kids could enjoy them. 

The advent of computer generated imagery (CGI) has made the category of animated feature films much larger.  The Academy Awards have had an Oscar for the best animated feature since 2001.

BRAVE-POSTER_510I’m seen a sprinkling of the well reviewed animated features of the last decade: SHREK, ICE AGE, FINDING NEMO, TOY STORY, etc.  I’ve found them pretty and mildly entertaining, though a couple so completely failed to catch our interest that we sent the discs back to Netflix largely unwatched.

But over the weekend, I saw the first animated feature that I loved: BRAVE.  It’s the first that really caught at my heart, which may be why I loved it.

I’m often behind the cultural curve, so I expect that many of you have already seen BRAVE, so please excuse me while I burble.  

For starters, the film is visually stunning.  Made by Pixar, it uses newly developed software, and the result is so gorgeous you want to fall into the images and live there.

Spoiler Alert!

For anyone who plans to see the BRAVE dvd and doesn’t want to have the surprises spoiled, quit here because I want to talk about the film and what made it special to me.

As I saId, BRAVE was made by Pixar, and is the first of their films to have a (gasp!) female protagonist.  It helped that one of the principal creators was female, Brenda Chapman.

The film was distributed by Walt Disney, a company which knows a thing or two about princesses.  But unlike charming movies like BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, there is no romance!  MULAN is mostly a girl’s adventure story based on an old Chinese legend, but in the end, she finds love, too.

Naturally I love romance, but I was tickled that there wasn’t a shred of it in BRAVE. Instead, it’s a story of a mother and a rebellious daughter, who love each other but have a relationship strained by the daughter’s fierce independence. 

The princess daughter is Merida (pronounced MER-i-da), a teenager with hair that is such a mass of wild red curls that it’s almost a character in its own right. <g>  Her father is King Fergus and her mother, Queen Elinor, does her best to train her daughter to be a responsible young princess.

Merida and angus
Naturally, Merida HATES this.  On her rare free days, she tears off into the forest on her faithful horse, Angus, a great beast with the huge feathered feet that one would expect to see in a real medieval war horse—more Clydesdale than Arabian. 

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more exuberant piece of film than Merida galloping through the woods, practicing her brilliant archery and climbing a famously dangerous pillar of stone.  She radiates life and enthusiasm. 

But she may not be the brightest candle on the chandelier, since she is shocked, SHOCKED <g>, when told that the three allied clans are coming to present their oldest princes as suitors for Merida’s hand.  Merida is Not Ready to settle down, and the potential suitors are, to say the least, unprepossessing. 

Mother and daughterThe queen’s demands that her daughter behave causes an explosion as irresistible force meets immovable object. Merida roars off into the forest, runs into a witch, and learns a terrible lesson in magical contracts.  Namely, don’t ask for something as vague as “I want my mother to change.”  Because the results can be ANYTHING. 

The spell Merida buys turns her mother into—a bear.  And this in the middle of a castle full of men obsessed with hunting and killing bears.  Bears were symbols of power and danger.  The word “berserker” comes the Nordic warriors who fought in a state of trance like rage and wore bear skins into battle. 

Much humor is derived from the queen’s confusion and embarrassment at her change, and Merida’s desperate attempts to protect her mother and reverse the spell.  But it’s scary, too!  At the end, I was saying, "Nooooooo!  Pooor bearrrr!!!!"

The ending is happy, and has no handsome prince popping up for Merida to fall in love with.  But it’s a very American fairy tale in that independence and the opportunity to pick one’s own mate in one’s own time trumps responsibility to one’s family, position, and society—exactly the values that Queen Elinor champions.  It’s the difference between reading Georgette Heyer, where an elopement is naughty fun, and reading Jane Austen, where an elopement is devastating to the whole family and its position in society. 

As an author, I try to write characters that fit within the mores of their era.  When your family and community were everyone's safety net, responsibility to others is vital.

Brave-3-680Nonetheless, I still adored Merida and her spirit and her wild red curls. <G>  Have you seen BRAVE, and if so, did you like it?  How do you feel about animated films in general?  Love them, tolerate them, or hate them?  I’d love to hear what you have to say!

Mary Jo, who loves independent Scottish lassies (of the sort Wench Susan writes about!)