Saturday, July 28, 2007

Miss Potter

I am not entirely sure how I ended up watching the movie Miss Potter. The DVD cover had a photo of Renee Zellweger’s and Ewan McGregor in a lip lock. Did Zellweger snag a typecast role of a Bridget Jones like character? The blurb about the movie on the back of the DVD case screamed sappy romantic comedy as well. So my expectation for this movie was set to the likes of “the holiday” and “the family stone”. I was pleasantly surprise to find that the movie was so much more than a silly romantic comedy. Even with the directorial attempts to mellow down Miss Potter’s story she comes across as the fierce firebrand feminist that she must’ve been. After I watched the movie I realized that categorizing this movie as a silly romantic comedy was an evil marketing ploy.

Miss Potter is a movie based on the true story of an extraordinary woman called Beatrix Potter who struggled against the societal constrains of being a woman in a time (early 1900s) when women were compelled to become housewives. In her quest to become a published writer and artist she fought tooth and nail to become a financially self-sufficient woman. She reminded me of J. K. Rowling, not merely for the common denominator of Potter but for their struggle (as women) to become published writers and their amazing success as writers of children’s books. Isn’t it disgraceful that after all the struggle women have gone through to be able to make it in a man’s world, even today, Joanne had to publish her books under the name J.K. Rowling to conceal her identity as a woman, in an effort to appeal to the male readers? Maybe a similar reasoning went into the marketing strategy of Miss Potter. Who would want to watch a movie about a woman protagonist who struggled to be accepted as a scientist, writer and artist? The audience would much rather prefer Miss Potter to be a love story. The movie makers took a lot of liberties in the storytelling and as a result compromised on Potter’s achievements. Potter had printed and sold some of her stories on her own but in the movie all the props for publishing are given to the male lead that Potter falls in love with. I guess they didn’t want the guy to look like the side-kick and wanted him to have a substantial role in Potter’s success as a writer. The movie makers entirely ignored many of Potter’s accomplishments so that she does not overshadow the other (male) characters. There was not even a mention of her scientific achievements.

I am a little miffed at all the historical inaccuracies of the movie but at the same time I was glad that this movie introduced me to this wonderful woman. I wish I had read all the stories about Peter rabbit and Jemima Puddle Duck when I was little. But like they say, ‘better late than never’. So I bought her entire published collection and although the stories are for little kids I must admit that I enjoyed reading some of those stories even now. You have to read the Jemima Puddle duck story if you haven’t already.

So here is remembering Miss Potter who was an extraordinary woman and still wins the hearts of people with her amusing stories. Happy Birthday to you Miss Potter ! I wish I could be half as accomplished as you were.

[ This review is also posted at ]


Anonymous said...

Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful woman. I'll try to rad some of her work. The similarity with Jo is a little too much though... Ms Potter's birthday is on 28th July and JKR's (and Harry's) birthday is on 31st July. JKR wrote her first story in her childhood about a rabbit named Rabbit. What's more, she also makes wonderful sketches. And Beatrix Potter worked for the conservation of lakes in Scotland... reminds one of Hogwarts... doesn't it?

Joy Forever said...

It's me who wrote that comment up there... heaven knows how it became anonymous!

Drunken Master said...

I used to have a ball reading her Peter Rabbit stories...

Crystal blur said...

Like you discovered, there are a lot of similarities between the two. I love and respect both of them.

Drunken master,
Yup, I loved Peter Rabbit...but Jemima Puddle Duck is by far my favorite :)

Virinder Urf Funda-Mentor said...

Hi crystal ... Thanks for mentioning my blog on your post. Really. Again , looking forward to more of your movie reviews. U can check out my review on THE SIMPSONS movie on the blog. Yeah Crytal, havent u cot the bourne ultimatum yet? let me know !

Crystal blur said...

Hey Virendra,
I saw both Simpsons and Bourne Ultimatum. BU is definitely worth a watch but I didn't find it worth reviewing since there isn't much to it other than the action.