"Quietly revolutionary": Washington Post on the Marston movie
The chief film critic at the Washington Post has this to say:
How two new movies prove to be quietly radical in their depiction of gay relationships
By Ann Hornaday
The period films “Battle of the Sexes,” set in the 1970s, and “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” which spans the 1920s and the 1940s, feature protagonists exploring sexual relationships that strayed from the heteronormative strictures of those eras. In “Battle,” Emma Stone portrays tennis player Billie Jean King as she embarks on her first lesbian romance; in “Marston,” Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston and his wife, Elizabeth, create a domestic and physical ménage à trois with a younger woman.
What’s quietly radical about both movies is that they use relatively conservative film vernaculars to depict stories in which sexuality isn’t “other-ized,” but a healthy part of the lives that include work, family, creativity and enterprise. “Battle of the Sexes” possesses the swiftly moving drama, sprightly humor and bright tone of a mainstream crowd-pleaser; “Professor Marston,” for its part, has the period sheen and restraint of a classic art house awards contender.
At a time when representation has gained steady traction in Hollywood, it’s often seen as a victory when a film features a leading character who isn’t white, male or straight. But both “Battle” and “Marston” go beyond mere box-checking to explore how aspects of identity — in this case, sexual orientation — can be depicted, not as an issue, a problem or even the defining facet of a character’s life, but an organic, un-neurotic piece of a larger whole.
...In “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” which opens Oct. 13, writer-director Angela Robinson handles potentially lascivious or voyeuristic material with tact and taste. ... Robinson... was determined to present her title characters not as figures of titillation or psychological obsession but intelligent and self-aware scholars who simply wanted to live honestly and in good faith with their hearts’ desires. The result is a film that, despite its sometime outre subject matter, feels improbably old-fashioned, sincere and wholesome.
...“Battle of the Sexes” and “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” are the most recent of a long line of breakthrough movies representing gay life.... What sets “Battle” and “Marston” apart are narrative and aesthetic values that could easily be described as conventional — even conservative.
“I made a very specific directorial decision to not put quotes around anything,” Robinson explained. “I [decided to] treat these characters the way your standard prestige biopic would. I very specifically chose to tell the story like you would tell ‘The Imitation Game’ or any other movies of this ilk. To me, that in and of itself was subversive.”
The whole article (October 5, 2017).
● The Boston Globe interviews Robinson: ‘Professor Marston’ reveals what wasn’t in ‘Wonder Woman’ (Oct. 6):
By Meredith Goldstein
..."My whole life I’ve just been a huge Wonder Woman fan. A friend of mine gave me this Wonder Woman book [by Les Daniels] and I stumbled upon a chapter about the Marstons, and how they formed a family together . . . and I literally couldn’t believe it. This was probably like a decade ago. I was just blown away, and it always stuck with me. Then a different friend encouraged me to write a movie about it, so I set about the process.
Angela Robinson on set
The world seems to want Wonder Woman now. Even before the big movie, there was the book by Jill Lepore (“The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” 2014).
There was the Jill Lepore book. Grant Morrison did a graphic novel called “Earth One,” reincorporating Marston’s themes. A bunch of people kind of found their way to this exploration of the Marstons, and that was kind of exciting.
You write Marston as this incredible man, especially when it comes to women. But his history with feminism is complicated. At one point in this film, a character basically says, “Does Wonder Woman have to wear a bikini?”
A. The character of William Moulton Marston was so compelling to me because I think he’s full of contradictions. He had these incredible, feminist ideas, and then he had ideas [that were] seemingly contradictory. It was kind of a soup of ideas about women and feminism — and bondage and pop culture. I ultimately came to love both the character I portrayed and the man that I researched....
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