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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women - Film Review

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Published November 8th 2017


Origins are interesting and sometimes fascinating. From the supposed apple that fell on Newton's head to inspire him to think of gravity, to the Los Angeles restauranteur, David Jung, who in 1916 invented the fortune cookie to assuage inpatient customers. He adapted the ancient practice used by Chinese rebels to conceal messages in buns. And you, as did I, thought fortune cookies were thousands of years old!

How do painters, authors, musicians, in fact, anyone who creates come up with their ideas? Well, to answer the question to one such creation is Professor Marston and the Wonder Women from writer/director Angela Robinson, which explores the creation of the comic book heroine, Wonder Woman.

It tells the story of Harvard psychology Professor Marston (Luke Evans) and his wife Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall) - also a psychologist and with him co-inventor of the Lie Detector - and their mutual romantic relationship with Professor Marston's student, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). Both women become composites for Wonder Woman. As Professor Marston tells his wife, "She is beautiful, guileless, kind and pure of heart. You are brilliant, ferocious, and a grade A bitch. Together, you are the perfect woman."

The configuration of this relationship came at a price to all parties. Professor Marston and his wife lost their positions at University and Olive did not complete her degree. Thirties and Forties America was not ready for them. But despite this, they were a strong family unit. Each present at births and involved in raising their children. Elizabeth, working as a secretary, and Professor Marston after failed attempts at becoming a writer, becomes interested in becoming a cartoonist and in 1941 Wonder Woman is born.

For him, this is a perfect vehicle to get to young minds. Wonder Woman and her adventures will explore human dynamics and psychology especially his DISC theory of Dominance, Inducement, Submission and Compliance and his belief that society will see the rise of the Amazonian and a matriarchal system.

In 1937, the actual Professor Marston did call a news conference to say that women will be running the world within a hundred years and that he thought women were superior to men in that have twice as much capacity to love. Given the time of the film, just after a world war and on the verge of another, this belief in changing the dynamic of society is understandable.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is beautifully shot for a period film. It's as if the film has been dipped into a chocolate malt shake oozing all different hues of brown. Luke Evans as Professor Marston is strong and solid and shows a deep desire to understand human motives and desires. Rebecca Hall is just as strong as well as witty and sensual and Bella Heathcote is warm and passionate.

In less steady hands, the nature of the characters' relationships could be prurient but Robinson deals with this sensitively and thoughtfully.


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