Lena Dunham explains how her marriage to Luis Felber changed her new movie ‘Catherine Called Birdy’

‘Catherine Called Birdy’

admin/ “View allposts by admin”)

By Lena Dunham’s own account, her newest movie, Catherine Called Birdy ,might have had a very different tone if she’d made it a few years ago. Basedon Karen Cushman’s 1994 novel, the medieval times-set movie follows theeponymous teenager (played by breakout Game of Thrones star Bella Ramsey) asshe faces the prospect of being forced into marriage by her well-meaning, butcash-strapped mom and dad ( Doctor Who ‘s Billie Piper and Fleabag ‘sAndrew Scott respectively). Meanwhile, behind the scenes, Dunham was livingout her own marriage story, embarking on a whirlwind romance with musician,Luis Felber, that culminated with them walking down the aisle in September2021 — nearly a year before the movie’s premiere at the 2022 TorontoInternational Film Festival.

“It’s funny, I got engaged literally two weeks after we wrapped the movie,”the writer/director tells Yahoo Entertainment now. “And I’d spent a few yearsmaking this movie about the oppressive nature of marriage!” But Dunham creditsher fast-moving relationship with Felber — who serves as Catherine CalledBirdy ‘s executive music producer — with lightening that formerly”oppressive” mood.

“That very romantic monologue that Andrew Scott delivers to his wife as she’sin childbirth,” she explains. “That very much came after I’d met my husband,and I was like, ‘Maybe being married wouldn’t all be suffering and pain! Maybethere’d be some really nice stuff too.'”

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20: Luis Felber and Lena Dunham attend theCatherine Called Birdy UK premiere at The Curzon Mayfair on September 20, 2022in London, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/GettyImages)

Luis Felber and Lena Dunham attend the Catherine Called Birdy UK premiere atThe Curzon Mayfair on September 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Dave JHogan/Getty Images)

Dunham has been exploring love, sex and the challenges of committedrelationships in all of her work, from HBO’s girls to her recent Sundancehit, Sharp Stick. At the same time, her own real-life romances have alsovery much been in the public eye, with the press reporting on her variousrelationships and break-ups. Now that she’s married, she doesn’t plan to stopdrawing on her own lived experiences for her art.

Story continues

“The stuff that I write now is still asking questions about marriage andmonogamy in a different way … It’s asking questions about whether theseconventions are still useful, what’s meaningful about them. In the case ofthis film, it was really interesting to go back in time and push some of thesame questions I’ve always been asking in my work in a medieval setting andwith an eye more towards speaking towards the younger audience. in totally newways.”

As a member of the movie’s target audience — not to mention its star — Ramsey,who recently celebrated her 19th birthday, naturally has a lot of thoughtsabout what marriage means to her generation. “I was talking with Andrewrecently, and he was describing how marriage back then was a businessarrangement… it’s only recently become a romantic thing. It’s a bit of paperthat like legalizes two people being together.”

Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey in Lena Dunham's latest film, Catherine CalledBirdy.  (Photo: @Amazon/Courtesy EverettCollection)Andrew Scottand Bella Ramsey in Lena Dunham's latest film, Catherine Called Birdy.(Photo: @Amazon/Courtesy EverettCollection)

Andrew Scott and Bella Ramsey in Lena Dunham’s latest movie, Catherine CalledBirdy. (Photo: @Amazon/Courtesy Everett Collection)

“But then I was speaking to someone who got married just a few weeks ago,”Ramsey continues. “She said that actually she feels this sense of beingsettled and of being secure … that she didn’t expect to feel. I don’t haveparticularly strong feelings [about marriage] at the moment. I just find itfascinating.”

While the institution of marriage has changed a lot since Birdy’s 13th centurydays, there are still parts of the world — including in the US — wherearranged unions are still commonplace. More seriously, there are also caseswhere young women have been pushed to wed as part of forced marriages. Dunhamsays that she doesn’t have specific objections to arranged marriages providedthat its consensual for both parties, and is definitely opposed to marriagebeing forced upon women.

“Some people culturally want to enter into an arranged marriage, and theythink it’s the most useful way to meet someone,” she says. “But the idea of​​forced anything is a problem, and I think that’s what the movie is saying —it’s a very live and let live movie. Do it any way you want to as long as itcomes with the dose of freedom.”

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 11: (LR) Lena Dunham and Bella Ramsey attendtheTORONTO,ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 11: (LR) Lena Dunham and Bella Ramsey attend the

Dunham and Bella Ramsey at the Toronto International Film Festival premiere of_Catherine Called Birdy_ in Sept. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

like A Knight ‘s Tale _and _Marie Antoinette before it, Catherine CalledBirdy takes a decidedly modern approach to depicting the past, incorporatingcontemporary slang and songs into its period setting. Ramsey says thatinfluenced her performance as well. “In the initial audition tape, there was alittle paragraph about how if Birdy existed in 2021, she’d have a weird, nichememe page on social media with like five followers,” the actress says,laughing. “She’s just a very curious person and I think she’d be astonished bymodern technology.”

As for Birdy’s future, both Ramsey and Dunham think that she perhaps neversettles down. “We’ve wondered if maybe Birdy is able to shrug off marriage anddevelop a life,” the director says. “Could Birdy be the first older eccentricwoman in her area who figures out having her own prosperous farm and doesexactly whatever she wants? Or maybe Birdy does fall in love with someone anddoes decide that marriage on her own terms is something she’s willing to do.”

“It’s a choice and she’s made that decision for herself,” Ramsey adds of heralter ego. “I think all she wants is to have some choice and freedom andcontrol over her life, because she feels like she has zero.” Either way, sheoffers up her favorite piece of dialogue from the film as evidence of whyBirdy is such a special character. “I loved saying the line, ‘I am not a ladysir, and cannot mimic one.’ I think that sort of encapsulates her wholefeelings throughout the film, and I felt those words very deeply.”

Video produced by Kat Vasquez and edited by Schuyler Stone

Catherine Called Birdy is currently playing in theaters and premieresOct. 7 on Prime Video