10 thoughts on “Ammonite (2020)

  1. I want to, but the streaming fee is too much right now. Will wait for DVD. Also wanted to see Happiest Season, but that too will wait for DVD.

  2. Okay kudos for not-wearing-a-corset being a character point about being weird in-universe, but someone with a large bust like Winslet would probably be uncomfortable with only cloth as support. Then again, there are period images of poorer women who do not look like they are wearing corsets. The most common one I’ve seen were black American slave women who usually only got a change of clothes per year, so obviously we’re in different circumstances than Mary, who was poor but more working-class than legally-counted-as-3/5-of-a-person. I don’t dislike it in this case, since again, it’s plausible and a character note, it’s just a little annoying that every historical drama lesbian love story seems to have a masculine vs. feminine lesbian binary. And the feminine lesbian is the weak one who is most likely to be screwed over by The Patriarchy to the point of dying. Internalized misogyny, what’s that you say?
    I’ll give them this, Mary is wearing a level of masculine clothing that IRL Mary Anning probably wore and would still make her a weirdo but socially acceptable given the location and social class- and they didn’t put her in trousers to denote Empowerment.

  3. So basically Charlotte Murchison is misrepresented and her husband defamed to give Anning a love interest. What was wrong with the other women she knew? The single women? I guess they needed an evil man to break up the poor, moody lovers.

    1. Personally I prefer happy endings. I love how Anne Walker rescues herself from her pushy relatives and takes control of her own life. Now that’s empowering!

  4. I’m going to wait for wider distribution. Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are excellent actresses, but I’m just not in the mood for this story right now. When I first heard of this film I thought it might’ve been an adaptation of Tracy Chevalier’s interesting novel Remarkable Creatures (about Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot), but obviously that’s not the case here.

    I second your frustration, Trystan, at the lack of Frock Flick film rentals available given the current state of things. Usually, I don’t rent, but so far I’ve rented two films since theaters shuttered; one was a Frock Flick–Interlude in Prague, starring James Purefoy. There are a few others I would consider renting given the state of things–The King’s Man, The Last Vermeer, and Come Away.

  5. This film (as you point out) sounds a LOT like ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ – in setting, themes etc. In fact, when I saw the trailer, I instantly thought of ‘Portrait’. Are there any other recent films that fit into this ‘Moody Lesbian Historical Films’ trend, you think? (Because I might seek them out!)

    It’s disappointing to hear that this one doesn’t have more of a ‘science’ focus, as I thought that one of the more interesting elements of ‘Portrait’ was its focus on art, portraits, painting. I would be really happy to learn about fossils and fossil collection in the 19th century, rather than keeping the focus entirely on the imagined forbidden love affair – which it sounds like from your review that this does.

    I really enjoyed your thoughts on the costumes, and it sounds like the costume designer had some very creative ideas (undersea inspired patterns!) but was somewhat hindered by the director’s vision of keeping the color palette so muted and drab (so that red could symbolize ‘passion’).

    Anyway, thanks for this review! :)

  6. “Given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context…?”

    Well yes. But that only applies to Anning. Murchison very definitely had a heterosexual relationship, and one in which if you can believe her biography she had a lot of power. Her husband’s scientific career was entirely her idea and she played a big role in it by his own account. Miserable, oppressed woman imprisoned by an unfeeling patriarch was definitely not the Murchisons.

  7. Mary Anning is a big noise among geologists and paleontologists. She was even seen as a star in her day and age among the same. She was often asked for advice from the men of her day.

    I often think that ‘she sells seashells by the seashore’ is about her.

    Sounds like the movie blew all that away. So, I’ll wait until it’s in on a service I already pay for, and only if the geo-world doesn’t pan it too much.

  8. I came to say something I feel others have said but weighing in anyway – this was a chance to tell Mary Anning’s story on film and instead of the story of her remarkable contribution to science, it’s faked up love story. Is this the new way of belittling her-stories, by making them all about their relationships, real or imagined?
    So now it’s unlikely we’ll get a film version of Remarkable Creatures, which is the story we should have got.

  9. Also joining the discussion about how annoying it is that impressive female historical figures seem to only be able to get a movie made about them if it skews romantic. Mary Anning was a really impressive woman, and her story deserves to be told. But instead the only way anyone wants to make a movie about her is if they turn it into a turgid melodrama about her forbidden lesbian affair (which almost definitely didn’t exist since it she had a lesbian affair it would have been with someone else instead of Murchison.) Why is that we get 1000’s of bios about men that barely if ever focus on their romantic affairs (and especially don’t seem to make up gay romances for them) but if we get a bio about an historical woman it has to focus on her (often made-up) lesbian romances with only tangential focus on her professional life. It seems like surface-level feminism (look! historical woman bio! queer-positive!) but ends up feeling shallow and exploitative (hey, historical women are boring, but pretty ladies having sex!) Hell, I feel that even when they don’t create lesbian relationships, they still focus mostly on the women’s romantic lives while glossing over their professional success which made them remarkable.

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