Professor Marston and the Wonder Women
10th October 2017 9.00pm at empire
12th October 2017 12.45pm at empire
15th October 2017 8.45pm at Hackney Picturehouse
Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is based on the amazing true story about Harvard-educated college professor, psychologist and inventor William Marston, who created the Wonder Woman comic heroine. A feminist, he lived in an unusual threesome arrangement with his wife and a young college student. Marston was involved with both women, but Robinson takes the liberty of proposing that there was also a lesbian relationship and that the trio were all romantically and sexually involved with each other.
The protagonist is well acted by Luke Evans, although his chiselled good looks suggest that he himself could be a superhero – rather than an erudite Harvard-trained intellectual. Rebecca Hall portrays his strong, intelligent, feisty Radcliffe graduate wife Elizabeth with conviction, the latter bemoaning the fact that she cannot have a PHD from Harvard because she has a vagina. The innocent but smart and secretly daring 22-year-old ingénue Olive Byrne is well interpreted by Australian actress Bella Heathcote.
Marston is preoccupied with notions of control and submission, although his spouse at one point accuses him of justifying his lust with science. But his discussions about his burgeoning Wonder Woman series and his theories about feminism, female strength and the suppression of girl power in traditional comics are mesmerising, and much social prejudice and removing of barriers are seen through the evolution of this fictional character. At one point the illustrated tales include female dominance, bondage and sado-masochism, but after societal pressure the Amazonian Wonder Woman is tamed and stripped of her powers, which are only restored years later by feminist Gloria Steinem.
This film highlights the sexual aspects of the story to a degree that might bring to mind a soft porn flick called Ménage A Trois – especially when bondage costumes and paraphernalia come into play. Despite this possible ticket-selling ploy, the quality of the movie is saved by its factual elements, the fascinating philosophical ideas these people were involved with, and their courageous and daring breaking barriers of sexism and convention in a very conservative 1940s America.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is filmed in Hollywood style – with seamless direction and cinematography – but the content is thought-provoking, the subject is compelling and historically educational, and the narrative is refreshingly candid and unusual. Even if it’s partly fictional, it is always inspiring to learn about the world’s trailblazers.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women here: