Lena Dunham considers herself a historian of her generation. As the creator of the HBO series “Girls,” she’s become the defining voice of millennials, even if her work has always been a little trick. But in her new movie,Catherine is called BirdieShe turned her attention to actual history. It is a space in which she feels comfortable. I am more of a person who will stay at home and read strange medieval memoirs, you know, a milkmaid found in a pile of rubble than I am willing to go to a party in Williamsburg.” In a recent phone call.
Adaptation by Karen Cushman 1994 Newbery Medal Winner Children’s Novel, “Birdy” is the story of a rebellious 14-year-old girl in medieval England (Bella Ramsay from “Game of Thrones”) whose father (Andrew Scott) wants to marry her off to prevent her family from sliding into poverty. Birdie does everything she can to thwart this effort, while at the same time starting a poor path toward emotional maturity. Despite the time period setting, it’s a material that feels very real to Dunham. In fact, “Birdy” is the third part of a trilogy that began with its breakout feature semi-autobiographical “Tiny Furniture” in 2010, and continued with “Sharp Stick,” a sexually explicit story about a 26-year-old virgin that was released earlier this year after her debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
“They all revolve around different moments in the coming-of-age story,” she said. Although these works take place in different eras and places, she added, “I hope they all provide a sense of how complex that moment was, especially for young women, how energizing and terrifying and the way the cracks that open it look.”
Making Birdy was a longtime goal for Dunham, 36, who first fell in love with the book as a child. (She has six copies, I counted.) I initially got the rights from the author nearly 10 years ago. “‘girls’ I just started and someone asked, “If you could adapt anything into a movie, what would your dream be?” And I don’t think my actors at the time were hoping I’d tell a medieval YA story about a girl who enters into a forced marriage, but that’s what I did,” she recalls.
Written as a diary, the rights to the book have been chosen once before. Cushman said in an interview that nothing came of it at all, so when Dunham sent a letter about her love for the book, the author quickly said yes.
Cushman, now 80, hadn’t seen ‘Girls’ yet—she doesn’t have cable—but she did.small furniture, which I found “extremely frustrating”. The novelist explained, “I thought it was cool when she was young to do what she did, and I hope she cheered up over the years after Tiny Furniture.” (Dunham eventually sent Cushman discs from “Girls.”)
Dunham finally started writing her version of “Birdy” in 2019 after moving to England to direct the pilot for HBO’s financial drama.industryFind inspiration in excursions to medieval landmarks. She was about to launch the project in March 2020 when the pandemic stopped production. Feeling the need to get creative after this disappointment, Dunham threw herself into writing Los Angeles’ “Sharp Stick,” in which the protagonist has an affair with her married boss, putting her in a whirlpool of sexual exploration.
“‘sharp stick’ My most complex instincts, perhaps the least commercial, and Byrdie, we hope in a positive way, try to tell a populist story, but both ask the same questions,” she said. However, having a “Sharp Stick” to explore its more provocative side allowed Dunham to “back off.” in certain ways when it came to following it up. Part of her, she said, may have wanted to delve deeper into the ugliness of Byrdie’s medieval society than she eventually did. Instead, she was content with her hero’s innocent point of view.
Before she did Birdie, Dunham met her now-husband, the British-Peruvian musician Louis VelbertAnd I started spending more time in Britain. Upon entering the project, she described herself as an “awkward angelophile” so much that she wanted a Bronte-themed bachelor party. (She explained, “It doesn’t end up happening. It’s a lot harder to have a bachelorette party in the swamps than you think.”)
However, she was careful to set aside some of her romance for the purposes of the film, which touches lightly on the horrors of British history such as the Crusades. Dunham worked side by side with the medieval world Helen Castor To understand the nuances of that period while turning away from the historical record when she saw fit. Example: The score written by Carter Burwell, sung by the group dental roomevokes choral music, while the soundtrack is filled with Misty Miller pop songs like Supergrass song “Alright” And the Mazzy Star “Fade Into You”.
Dunham’s 13th-century copy, which she made alongside production designer Kevin Quinn and costume designer Julian Day, is filled with color and flowers—”one step away from Coachella,” according to Dunham. The goal was costumes that were historically appropriate and fun enough to catch the eyes of girls looking for their next Halloween costume.
That knack for understanding Dunham’s rising femininity served well when it came to collaborating with Ramsay, the 18-year-old who plays Byrdie. “I think she understands what it means to be a teenage girl who doesn’t fit the teenage girl mold,” Ramsay said of Dunham. “I knew the feeling of feeling things deeply and not knowing how to express them.”
“Catherine Cold Birdie” is Dunham’s most family-friendly and therefore accessible work. Parents can be sure there are no off-print sex acts, although there are discussions about menstruation and farting. For Scott, the actor best known as the mega-priest in Fleabag, who plays Byrdie’s father, Rollo, it’s a way for audiences to see a part of Dunham that may have been hidden in its borderline material. “I love the fact that this movie is so full of heart,” he said. “I love the fact that this side of her is something that people can identify with now.”
Dunham knows that “Birdy” will still be compared to “Girls,” but she’s grateful that it took about a decade to make. Those years of life experience meant she could reincarnate into the world around the gritty teen at the center of the film, whether it was from multiple stillbirths to Byrdie’s mother or the heartbreak suffered by her best friend. “I feel fortunate that there is such a small space so I hope this film, which I care about so much and which in many ways feels like the culmination of my work in my life so far, has a chance to stand on its own,” she said. She just wants viewers to fall in love with this story the same way she did all those years ago.