Exciting news for film fans in the USA! – Now the award-nominated and star-studded Ammonite can be streamed from the comfort of your own home.
If you haven’t yet caught wind of Ammonite, now is the time to get caught up! Ammonite is a dramatic imagining of a love affair between acclaimed but overlooked fossil hunter Mary Anning (Kate Winslet) and a young woman, Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan), whose wealthy husband has entrusted her to Mary in an effort to cure her of her ‘melancholy’. Set in the 1840s and filmed along the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis, this film tells the tale of 2 women deeply affected by their own personal struggles who form a connection that defies all social bounds and alter the courses of their lives.
The Director’s point of view…
Ammonite was written and directed by Francis Lee, who achieved great success with his critically-acclaimed first film God’s Own Country. Lee’s inspiration for telling his version of Mary Anning’s story stemmed from the fact that there is virtually nothing written about her by contemporaries, and he wanted to tell his interpretation of what a snapshot in the life of this remarkable historical figure could have been like. In Lee’s own words, he describes Mary as “a working class woman working on the unforgiving and dangerous sea shore in Dorset, with virtually no education, thrust into being the breadwinner for the family at the age of 11 following her father’s death, and rising to become one of the leading but totally unrecognised palaeontologists of her generation, totally self-taught in a deeply patriarchal and class ridden society.”
There is no evidence Mary ever had a non-platonic relationship with anyone, whether that be heterosexual or same sex. However, Lee felt that given the well documented, close relationships with women Mary had, he envisioned such a relationship to be a possibility and wanted to give her one that felt worthy of her memory.
What the cast think about telling this story…
When asked why it is important to tell Mary Anning’s story, Kate Winslet said the following: “Women are greater together: the more strong female voices we have, the more togetherness we show, the more examples we have of great women history – the more inspired we will feel as a community to support one another, to encourage one another and to inspire one another.”
Saoirse Ronan said: “I think it’s a very timely story. We’re at a point now in society – and politics, and art, and film – where we’re definitely being given a platform to share stories we weren’t able to before – stories that are honest and authentic. My thing is, whether it’s about a man or a woman, it should just be as human as possible, and that’s what this is; it’s just about two people who are a bit broken and a bit flawed, but have this beauty in them too.”
Ammonite was filmed on location in Lyme Regis, a town in West Dorset, England, where the real Mary Anning worked and collected fossils in the early 1800s. Kate Winslet felt that the local community was absolutely lovely and very welcoming, and that people there felt that Mary Anning was theirs. Everybody had a story about her. Because they teach about Mary Anning in schools there, children as young as five and six would see Winslet in her costume and ask “Are you Mary Anning?”
Kate Winslet on playing a woman loving another woman:
“It was interesting playing a woman who has a relationship with a woman and feels great love for a woman. It was new for me – I did see the role of a woman through completely different eyes to any character I’ve played before from that time period. Mary isn’t subservient, she isn’t dictated to – she didn’t apologise for one second for who she was, and that is a quality we should all possess. Walking away from playing her, I was the most inspired I have ever been by any character I’ve played. And I’ve been doing this job twenty-six years.
It was interesting for me shooting the more intimate scenes with Saoirse. It made me almost annoyed with myself, in the sense that I’ve filmed intimate scenes before, but mostly with male actors – and it suddenly occurred to me that there is an automatic power dynamic that comes into play when doing that type of scene with a man. As a woman, you assume the man will take the reins, or steer the energy of the scene, and you as the female character will be ‘taken’ in some way. I realised that I have allowed myself to be that taken one. In a situation with Saoirse where it was utterly equal, it made me feel kind of angry at how that hasn’t occurred to me before. Why shouldn’t I have felt equal to my male counterparts? And that’s the way society is, and now we have to make a noise about it – we have to make a noise about wanting to be equal, about deserving to be equal. Now more than ever, I do feel telling these stories where you see women breaking away from societal norms – it’s incredibly, incredibly important. I feel very lucky to be part of a movement just now; and filmmaking is a crucial part of that movement, keeping female voices loud and proud, sharing these stories and telling them in a truthful, sincere, emotional way.
The thing that I feel the most when I watch the film, and I feel genuinely proudest of is that this is a same-sex, romantic relationship, intimate relationship in a period setting and yet they’re not hiding, they’re not having to run around and avoid society; they are simply in love, and they discover who they truly are through this connection that they form, and the relationship between them just is…and the fact that they are the same sex just doesn’t even matter. And I feel so proud of that because it makes me feel that perhaps Saoirse and I, along with Francis are part of the big change here…it’s so important that the more of these kinds of stories we’re able to tell where these relationships are just absolutely commonplace and that they’re not hidden or talked about or salacious or titillating or pulled apart just because it’s two people of the same sex. They’re just two people in love. And I feel proudest of that.”
Well there you have it! It is clear that Ammonite tells a fictional story inspired by a character of great historical significance, and by sharing it, Francis Lee and the impressive cast and crew behind the film shed light on Mary Anning’s underrated and overlooked life’s work. At the same time, both lead characters give an insight into the struggles of women surviving in the early 19th century–as well as the triumphs, freedom, and breakthroughs they could achieve within their own narratives when dealing with love, loss, expectations, and the constraints of society and their standing within it.
I shall leave you with this final statement from director Francis Lee: “Ultimately, Ammonite is a deeply personal film. An investigation into how to navigate a relationship from deeply lonely, disconnected beginnings. How we learn how to love again after being hurt. How we can be open enough to love and be loved. How we can accept and forgive and learn through the power of a true, intimate connection.”
How to watch Ammonite in the US
Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Ammonite’s release has boosted mainstream lesbian representation that much more this year. With household names Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, I’m sure the film will bring about sexual awakenings for at least a few baby gays, as well as shine a spotlight on a forgotten woman in history.
Why isn’t Ammonite on Lesflicks
Sadly, Lesflicks is not able to offer Ammonite on our VOD platform (here’s to hoping!), because we’re still growing. Bigger films are distributed by bigger companies and they will only consider larger platforms. Join us, tell your friends and we’ll be adding bigger films as soon as we can! In the meantime you can definitely watch it on several different sites in the US. Watch Ammonite on Youtube, Google Play, Amazon Prime, Microsoft, Fandango Now, Vudu, and TIFF. Check availability in your local region!
Why can’t I get Ammonite in other countries?
Every country has a different, regional distributor. They all work to their own timetable. In the US cinemas are closed so Ammonite has gone straight to digital. In the UK we estimate a January 2021 release. DM us and we’ll find out who your distributor is and when it is being released.
Lesflicks is your go to for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women films and series. Even though we are still about a year old, we are growing bigger every day, and adding films and series weekly. Just call us a lesbian Netflix! At the same time, though, we need more and more voices to amplify the need for positive lesbian representation, and especially funding for LBTQ films. With your help, we can show the world and the big movie studios that there IS an audience for lesbian films, and a paying one at that. It’s easy–after reading this article, tell just 5 of your closest friends about Lesflicks and what we offer. Find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This article was written by:
Reviewer & Writer
Ping believes in the power of love and kindness, and that "love is love" no matter what shape or form it comes in. She would like to see positive representation for all walks of life in film and media.