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Starring: Lena Dunham, Billie Piper, Andrew Scott, Bella Ramsey, Joe Alwyn, Dean-Charles Chapman, Ralph Ineson
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Amazon Prime medieval comedy written and directed by Lena Dunham. Set in the 1290’s in the village of Stonebridge, Catherine Called Birdy (2022) centers on Lady Catherine (Bella Ramsey), the youngest child of Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott) and Lady Aislinn (Billie Piper). Financially destitute and utterly greedy, Rollo sees his daughter as his path out of financial ruin by marrying her off to a wealthy man suitor. But Birdy is spirited, clever and adventurous, and ready to put off any suitor that comes calling in increasingly ingenious ways. Her imagination, defiance, and deep belief in her own right to independence put her on a collision course with her parents. When the most vile suitor of all arrives, they are presented with the ultimate test of love for their daughter.
Our Favorite Quotes:'Knowing your own story will be your salvation.' - Edward the Monk (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Morwenna: [to Birdy, who’s covered in mud] And to think I just bathed you a fortnight ago. What a waste.
Birdy: Perkin has told me how babies are made, and I’m afraid I shall perish with revulsion.
Morwenna: Well, you had to learn sooner or later. You’re fourteen.
Birdy: Morwenna, am I to move on calmly with what I know now? A man is going to take a heated iron poker, a heated one, stick it up my nose until there’s a space big enough for his whole thumb. After which, he will press seeds into my brain. And they trickle down my throat, into my gut, where they take root for nine months before popping out my bum. No!
Birdy: Perkin, my heart’s brother. Although he is just a goat boy, he is kind of heart and wise of spirit. Though he is sorely afflicted with wind in his bowels.
Birdy: I would rather be fed to a stroppy dragon than try and spin like a lady.
Birdy: I am, thank the Lord, very cunning. Most girls are, though we’re not given due credit for it.
Birdy: I have made a bargain with my mother. I may forgo spinning, my greatest agitation of all, as long as I write this account of my days for my brother, Edward the Monk. In his letters, he tells me he believes it will help me grow less childish and more learned. So what follows will be my book, the book of Catherine, called Little Bird or Birdy.
Birdy: My truest passions are avoiding my chores. Critiquing my father’s horrible swordplay. Disrupting cottage raisings. Causing mischief in the village. And listening through doors I should not listen through.
Lord Rollo: Well, how has this happened, Finneas? After all, you’re paid to prevent things like this.
Finneas the Steward: In essence, my Lord, you have ignored me. You have spent profligately and without censor.
Lord Rollo: Nonsense. I can’t have spent so much. Give me one example of an expense not strictly necessary for the survival of my family.
Finneas the Steward: Really?
'As the time approaches when we must wed, we are forced to undertake lady lessons. My two least favorite words, together in one terrible phrase.' - Birdy (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Lord Rollo: My tiger has arrived. It’s dead.
Tiger Salesman: The travel was harsh from Siberia, my Lord.
Robert: Mayhap it’s just sleeping, Father.
Birdy: It’s not breathing, you fool.
Lady Aislinn: Perhaps some water?
Finneas the Steward: There is an opportunity to relieve this accumulated debt.
Lord Rollo: For Birdy?
Finneas the Steward: Yes.
Lord Rollo: With a man?
Finneas the Steward: Yes.
Lord Rollo: No. No. No. She’s disgusting. She’s one step away from a leper.
Finneas the Steward: There are plenty of men foolish enough to trade their fortune for the prefix of “lord”. Now it’s your job to find one.
Lord Rollo: No. Surely, there must be another way, yes? She’s my only daughter.
Finneas the Steward: And this is your only manor.
Morwenna: It is your monthly tidings. The lady in red. So you will do your duty to bear your husband children.
Birdy: Then I shall run away. Far. I shall steal a suit of armor, and become a knight, and take the horse and the carriage, and I shall ride at midnight.
Morwenna: Dress as a knight, or dress as a lady, the blood will come. You are a woman now, Birdy.
Birdy: There’s a hanging today in Rutherford.
Lady Aislinn: A hanging?
Birdy: An ever so small one. I was thinking I could maybe go.
Lady Aislinn: Absolutely forbidden.
Birdy: Robert goes to all the hangings.
Lady Aislinn: Well, Robert is Robert, and you are not.
'Things girls cannot do. Go on Crusades. Cut their hair. Be horse trainers. Laugh very loud. Marry whom they will. Be monks. Drink in alehouses. Go to hangings.' - Birdy (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Birdy: Men are horribly duplicitous creatures.
Birdy: As the time approaches when we must wed, we are forced to undertake lady lessons. My two least favorite words, together in one terrible phrase.
Birdy: I will never get used to babies coming dead. And my heart will never stop aching for them to live. I continue to hide my rags so that my father will not make me a wife and a mother, and I will keep hiding them over and over, forever.
Birdy: I always imagined that Edward lived amongst God-fearing old nutters and musty old men who clutched their Bibles to their chests.
Birdy: [as she sees all the young good looking monks] Ooh-la-la! Wait! These are monks? Why hath no one told me? I am ever so confused about what is God is getting at here.
'I feel as though no part of me is my own. Would I choose to die rather than be forced to marry? I do not think either option appealing, or fair.' - Birdy (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Edward the Monk: [as Birdy has climbed onto the Jesus statue] Catherine. What are you doing here?
Birdy: I’m just visiting an old friend.
Edward the Monk: Get off Jesus! Catherine!
Birdy: Don’t look at me like that.
Birdy: How was I to know that comely young women are a spiritual danger to monks?
Edward the Monk: You are no danger to anyone but yourself.
Edward the Monk: Birdy, please do not joust with our crucified Savior.
Birdy: Everybody lets boys do everything. So boring, Edward.
Edward the Monk: Well, boredom is for the dull-witted, Bird. You’re not dull, are you?
Birdy: Of course I’m not dull.
Birdy: Why does Edward want me to read this book so full of strangers and their woes? For saints are just dinguses I will never actually meet. At the very least, I’ll become an expert on their gruesome deaths, which are so displeasing that they please me terribly.
'We learn best when we close our mouths and open our ears.' - Cornethia (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Morwenna: Any other jolly little plans for this afternoon?
Birdy: Why, yes, actually. I’m denying myself buns. I’m also going to sleep with a comb beneath my back, for I must emulate Saint Blandina, who was scourged, placed on a red-hot grate, and then thrown before a wild steer who tossed her into the air with his horns. Tragically, she was killed with a dagger.
Morwenna: You’ll meet a dagger if you don’t put your bloody shoes on.
Birdy: I cannot believe I must bear this with good humor month after month. I would prefer a monthly bath in poo, or to wrestle a lion. Oh, to wrestle a lion.
Birdy: What do you suppose about kissing?
Perkin: Suppose how?
Birdy: Might it not be as vile as we once thought?
Birdy: Sir, we know Lady Catherine, and you really shouldn’t have bothered.
Perkin: We’re just a bit confused why you would travel all this way for such a…
Birdy: She’s a creature, a vile creature. All teeth, and hair, and vomit and snot!
Perkin: Awful. Terrible. Some say she has a third ear.
Birdy: She does.
Suitor from Kent: Have you seen this third ear?
Birdy: I’ve seen it.
Suitor from Kent: Where?
Birdy: Back of her neck.
Suitor from Kent: Is it functional?
'You have wings. You must learn how to harness them, not flap them all about and crash to the floor.' - Ethelfritha Rose Splinter of Devon (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Suitor from Kent: Where is the Lady Catherine that I have heard of, who has ebony tresses that tumble like waterfalls? The Lady Catherine that has the curves of an archipelago?
Perkin: What is an archipelago?
Suitor from Kent: A small series of little islands, I believe.
Suitor from Kent: I want to thank you, actually. You’re very, very dashing.
Suitor from Kent: [to Birdy] You, on the other hand, have been a little churlish, if I may say so.
Birdy: Things girls cannot do. Go on Crusades. Cut their hair. Be horse trainers. Laugh very loud. Marry whom they will. Be monks. Drink in alehouses. Go to hangings.
'I wish I could help every girl in the world. But for now, I am enough.' - Birdy (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Birdy: [as her Uncle George arrives] After one man brought doom on horseback, another brings divine hope.
Lady Aislinn: How was your day, my love?
Robert: It was fine.
Lord Rollo: Don’t say “fine”, Robert. It’s boring. Don’t bore your mother.
Birdy: [referring to her Uncle George] If I cannot be a hero, I will love a hero instead. He will tell my father he cannot sell me off this way, and he will fight for me.
'Things girls can do. Run in the fields. Invent original curses. Save the day. Pee standing up. Well, that one was a bit tricky. And keep fighting, no matter who may come on horseback.' - Birdy (Catherine Called Birdy) Click To Tweet
Birdy: If I were to marry, Aelis, then I should choose him. If only he were my cousin and not my uncle.
Birdy: I shall never smear myself with mud again and shove Perkin onto the ground. I shall never get to see a hanging. I shall never get to have anything like fun. And just because my birthright is to bleed.