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Monday
Jul022012

WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES

Features: Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, Gloria Steinem, Jane Espenson, Kathleen Hanna, Mike Madrid, Andy Mangels, Shelby Knox and Katie Pineda.
Writer/Director: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

REVELATIONS FILM FESTIVAL Screening – Thur July 12, 7.15pm; Sun July 15, 7.30pm

Rating: 4/5

 

Though no one will feel short-changed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s enriching, inspiring doco Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines, there is a lingering regret that the whole thing is wrapped in a tight 62 minutes. Not because I felt that there was more to be said; more that I didn’t want it to end.

The film’s main aim is to highlight the crucial role that superheroine characters have played in pop culture, with specific reference to the supporting and forwarding of women’s issues. Taking as its focus the development and representation of artist William Moulton Marston’s iconic amazon princess, Diana of Themyscira, aka Wonder Woman, since her creation 70 years ago, the film also warmly recalls the impact of such favourites as The Bionic Woman, Charlies Angels, Sarah Connor, Ellen Ripley, Buffy Summers, Dana Scully and Thelma and Louise.

The film fascinates on this level, chronicling how panel-pages (and, subsequently, the big and small screens) have reflected the prevailing mood towards women. Created at the height of the 1940’s war effort, when women were keeping the home fires burning in non-traditional roles, Wonder Woman was a fierce, independent figure; by the 1950’s, with the men back home and the ladies pushed into domestic servitude, Wonder Woman became a weaker figure. It was not until the emergence of the women’s liberation movement in the 1960s did she regain her strength and take on symbolic pertinence.

Guevara-Flanagan’s collection of scholars, pop-artists and empowerment advocates (notably the always quotable Gloria Steinem) give fascinating insight, their accounts peppered with personal recollections and humour. Accompanying the talking heads are a geek’s dream collection of historical comic-book covers, scene clips and convention floor opinions.

But the most profound achievement of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines is captured in the scenes of the young girls and working class mums who look to the superheroines to establish values and overcome hardships. If it was the production’s intention to finally kill-off any non-believers who still consider the fantasy genre a worthless artform peopled by slackers dodging a real life, it is a goal achieved. The deeply human role our mythical figures continue to fulfil in our society, on many levels, is honoured triumphantly.

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