Wits in solitude

April 21, 2024

A fairytale masterpiece, complete with its own dragon, chronicles the survival journey of a betrayed princess

Wits in solitude


illie Bobby Brown is one of Hollywood’s up-and-coming actresses. As it turns out, she is quite an artist. From her roles in Stranger Things and Enola Holmes to Godzilla, she has performed in several movie genres and shown that with her acting talent she can immerse the audience in a scene and a character.

Her latest project is Damsel, a piece where her acting skills alone set the tone for the movie as she traverses dark caves with a dragon on her heels. Millie plays the role of Princess Elodie whose family is going through a financially difficult situation. The richness and grandeur of Prince Henry’s family allure Elodie to make a sacrifice for her people. The promise of worldwide travel, an extravagant living style and lavish treatment, worthy of her character, make her enter the bond. Her wits and intelligence are portrayed beautifully. So are her injured appearance and her emotional and physical pain.

Nick Robinson has already captivated audiences with his performances in many films. His talent shines through in everything, from his breakout role in Jurassic World to the coming-of-age drama Love, Simon and the heart-rendering movie adaptation of Everything, Everything. His on-screen presence and versatility make him a popular actor. Damsel is another key project for him.

In Damsel, he gives a nuanced performance as a young man navigating the complexities of love and self-discovery in the Old West. He gives his character depth with a visible tug-of-war between his mother’s demands and his own moral compass. However, his willingness to throw two princesses to their death and marry a third casts him in a terrible role. A more focused approach to his character and better moral judgment on his part might have added substance and emotion to the movie. Whether Henry loves Elodie is a lingering question in the movie.

When Elodie gets married, her blind trust in Henry shows when she lets him carry her across the abyss to the cave where Henry’s family tricks her into attending a ritual they claim protects their people. The cinematics of the scene are amazing. Elodie’s trust in her newlywed husband is evident. She acts like a girl who has been swept off her feet in a romantic gesture only to be thrown to her demise with a feeble ‘sorry.’

Betrayed by her husband, Elodie is left to trek through caves with a dragon sniffing for her blood in a murderous revenge rage for the sorrow inflicted on it by the first king who murdered his three daughters. The dragon was promised three daughters by every subsequent king but the humans found an alternative solution, marrying off their sons and sacrificing their daughters-in-law instead.

The cinematography is stunning from start to finish. Every shot has been meticulously composed, with attention to detail visible in every frame. The film expertly uses lighting, colour and framing to evoke mood and atmosphere, transporting viewers to the rugged landscapes and intricately designed sets that serve as the story’s backdrop. The tall mountains ascending in a green-to-white manner with deep valleys and curving rivers cutting through show how being thrown into a cave from the wide and open landscape can cause fear, anger, hopelessness and claustrophobia.

One of the film’s most striking visual elements is the contrast between the grandeur of nature and the intimacy of human emotion. Wide shots of sweeping vistas are balanced by close-ups of the characters’ raw emotions, resulting in a sense of scale and intimacy that is both breathtaking and deeply moving. The hieroglyphics in the cave, the magical insects that have healing properties and the fire-breathing dragon take the story of a girl being traded and bartered in ancient times to a level that is a pleasant break from the grim realities of the sacrificial culture that has sadly revived into the 21st Century.

The movie ends on a positive note, however, as Lady Bayford shows that people with a golden heart exist and a mother’s intuition is never wrong. As a father, Lord Bayford is also seen trying to make amends when it is too late. Amends are made nonetheless.

Netflix’s Damsel is a fairytale masterpiece. It deserves credit and will make for a solid weekend watch.

The writer is an undergraduate student of psychology at FC College, Lahore

Wits in solitude