Every month I sit down and try to think of a female heroine not created by Disney or Pixar…and most of the time I end up writing about one created by this studio nevertheless. This month I really, really wanted to talk about a character from another studio. And not just a good one, but an outstanding one. Since Mrs. Brisby already got an article, this was a really, really hard task. Until I remembered a movie I really enjoyed as a child, despite it’s mediocre animation and story telling problems. This movie is Charlotte’s web.
The funny thing is that as a child, I never saw the full movie. We had it on VHS, but for some reason, the beginning was missing. To me the story started with Charlotte talking to Wilbur the first time – the whole beginning about Wilbur’s birth and his friendship with Fern was missing. And to be honest – it made a better movie. When I finally saw the full version, I wondered why there was so much focus on Wilbur and Fern in the beginning, even though Fern is in the grand scheme of things a fairly unimportant character. Yes, I know, she is more or less the mother figure in his life an when she leaves, Wilbur is forced to grew up…just that he never really does. The whole story is structured like a coming of age story, with the protagonist growing up, meeting other people (animals) and finally coming into his own. It just doesn’t work this way, because Wilbur is pretty much stuck at the farm, and it is not him who decides about his own life. Because of this, his role is pretty much the one of a catalyst. We feel for him, but his actions are not really the interesting part. Important is what the other characters, above all Charlotte, do to change his fate. And I honestly wonder why it takes so long for the title character of the movie to even enter the screen.
Charlotte is easily the best part of the movie. She is wise. She is educated. She is ready to do whatever necessary to help her friend. At the same time though, she isn’t perfect. For example, she does have a hard time to handle Templeton, the rat. Whenever she wants his help, the goose ends up to be the one who convinces him, because she has a way better understanding how his (greedy and egoistical) mind works than Charlotte, who tends to apply to his non-existent good heart. She does have habits which are difficult to understand for Wilbur (mainly the fact that she kills insects, sucking out their blood).
Above all though she is a heroine. Not because she is doing anything flashy. But because she spends her whole live helping someone else. Not in a self-sacrificing way, she is still living her life, she is still finishing her personal magnus opus. She is like all the woman (and men) out there, who decide to spend their free time contributing to a good cause. Her actions wont be part of a history book, but she will be remembered for it by the persons, whose life she changed.
Quote: “How very special are we for just a moment to be… part of life’s… eternal… rhyme.”
This movie is a children’s movie through and through. A really good one, but I doubt that many adults would enjoy it. The story is very simple, very laid back, and there is a lot of padding in order to reach the proper running time. Nevertheless, I recommend it, because it has some very thoughtful moments. It contains some good lessons about friendship, and about the need to look behind the surface of things to see their true nature.