For writer-director Lena Dunham, Karen Cushman’s 1994 Newbery Honor-winning YA novel Catherine, Referred to as Birdy is nearly a sacred textual content. Following the comedian exploits of a younger woman in thirteenth century England, Cushman’s guide is an irreverent tackle being a teenage woman at a time when such an id left younger girls powerless and beholden to the lads of their lives — first their fathers, then their husbands.
Bella Ramsey (pictured above, with co-star Joe Alwyn) stars because the 14-year-old title character who rebels towards the patriarchy as greatest as she will be able to when her father (Andrew Scott) declares that she is to be married to a rich husband with a view to save the household from monetary smash. As she fends off potential suitors to her dad and mom’ dismay, she finds her personal voice as a witty, rambunctious younger lady who has the ability to face up for herself. Dunham admits that seeing Ramsey for the primary time summoned reminiscences of when she purchased her copy of Cushman’s guide as a preteen on the Union Sq. Barnes & Noble in Manhattan and first grew to become obsessive about the character of Birdy. The design of the guide additionally influenced the look of the Prime Video movie, notably the usage of colour. “All that made it into [the film], from the manufacturing design to the casting,” she says. “It’s the genesis for a lot of what the film grew to become visually.”
The movie additionally grew to become a household affair, with Dunham collaborating along with her husband, musician Luis Felber, on the movie’s soundtrack. She additionally solid her canine, Ingrid, in a minor half — à la Sofia Coppola’s movie debut as Michael Corleone’s toddler nephew in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. “I gave her the position,” Dunham says with fun. “Folks had been skeptical, however I believed in her!”
DAYS OF HEAVEN
Dunham first noticed Terrence Malick’s 1978 drama when she was in school, having bought a VHS copy (with this cowl). “It was the primary time I genuinely liked a sluggish, auteurist, grownup movie — not simply performing curiosity however being actually rapt by it,” she admits. Not solely did the font on the duvet encourage the typefaces utilized in Birdy, however the narration by then-15-year-old star Linda Manz additionally impressed Birdy’s voiceover all through the film.
DUNHAM’S DOG, INGRID
“Ingrid was with me by way of writing, scouting and capturing this film,” says Dunham, noting that her canine — a Mexican hairless and pug combine — has a cameo within the movie because the child Jesus within the Christmas pageant. “As we had been touring to those medieval buildings, we’d see these outdated work of saints and peasants with their canine. All of them appeared a bit of like Ingrid — she has a really medieval look.”
CATHERINE, CALLED BIRDY
“That was the face of Birdy I at all times noticed,” says Dunham of the illustration of the title character on the unique version of Cushman’s novel. “Once I noticed Bella’s face, it summoned so lots of those self same qualities that the character has — very classical magnificence coupled with intelligence, [and] wide-eyed innocence coupled with trickery.”
This was a shoppable journal printed across the flip of the millennium. “My dad and mom would get their Hammacher Schlemmer catalog within the mail, and I’d get Girlfriends LA,” recollects Dunham, who ordered her bat mitzvah gown from the corporate. “I wouldn’t say my costume designer spent hours perusing the Girlfriends LA catalog, however as I appeared by way of the costumes, I felt that vitality. It’s like Y2K vogue, solely from a century earlier than Y2K.”
JULIA JACKLIN’S CRUSHING
The 2019 album from the Australian singer-songwriter was incessantly in rotation as Dunham was in preproduction — and it was an album that she bonded over along with her husband, musician Luis Felber, who additionally labored on the movie’s soundtrack. “Julia’s voice grew to become this type of troubadour, narrating my expertise coming to and exploring England,” says Dunham. The thought of a feminine touring minstrel additionally impressed Dunham and Felber to incorporate cowl songs by singer Misty Miller, who recorded variations of hits like “My Boyfriend’s Again” and “Fade Into You.”
This story first appeared in a December stand-alone problem of The Hollywood Reporter journal. To obtain the journal, click here to subscribe.