Friday, April 06, 2007

Miss Potter

My wife and I first visited the U.K. in 1983 and somewhere along the way I vaguely remember going into a very small Beatrix Potter storefront museum. I remember being somewhat disturbed by all the exhibits of little stuffed animals (lots of kittens included, as I recall) dressed in little suits of clothes that were posed doing all the things that human children enjoy doing. Now, keep in mind that we spent maybe 45 minutes there, and it was almost 25 years ago, so I can't vouch for the complete accuracy of what I think I saw but I remember something being said to the effect that Potter herself had somehow been involved in preparing the various scenes on display. We left with a completely different impression of Beatrix Potter, the woman, than the one that we walked in with, an impression that I doubt that the museum people intended to create for us.

That's why I'm looking forward to Renee Zellweger's new movie, Miss Potter, what is supposed to be a charming movie on the life and times of Beatrix Potter.
“Miss Potter” is an intelligent, gently told biopic, created in a straightforward, simple way. There are no special bells and whistles except for some lovely computer-generated effects when Beatrix Potter’s imagination is shared with us in quite an unexpected and engaging way.

On a number of occasions throughout the film, her original sketches come to life and turn into hippity-hoppity animated drawings that jump off the page. Not only did those moments delight me, but they seemed to startle and truly tickle the sensibility of Renee Zellweger – the main reason this film works as well as it does.
The film also reveals what an advocate for the environment Beatrix Potter became, after the wealth she acquired from her children’s books allowed her to buy great expanses of property in the Lake District in the north of England. Along with those classic fables, her gift of thousands of acres of land to England’s National Trust lives on.

Noonan has given us a terrific movie about a woman who lived a good life, overcame the rigidity of her social class and came to understand who she was and what she needed to accomplish during her time on Earth.
I need to see this movie, I think, to cleanse my somewhat less than complimentary impression of who Beatrix Potter was and to replace that impression with one that is, I hope, more accurate. It's amazing how long the images in that little museum have stayed with me.


  1. All I know is that I would much rather see this Miss Potter movie than the next Harry Potter movie!
    Squirrel Nutkin

  2. Wow, I had no idea this was coming out. I want to see it too, because I know absolutely nothing about the woman, but collected the tiny copies of her books when I was a child, on trips to England. By the way, that museum sounds creepy...

  3. Same here, Gentle Reader. I don't know a thing about the woman and I'm curious to learn just who she really was. It doesn't hurt too that Renee Zellweger is starring in the film; she's a local girl and I follow her career with some interest.