Secrets and borrowings of the Wednesday series from Netflix
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Netflix's “Wednesday,” about the record-breaking daughter of the Addams Family, steals many scenes and ideas from other cult films, but director Tim Burton has given it style and depth. Read about it in the latest article Focus.
The premiere series “Wednesday” from Netflix in terms of explosive popularity among the company's English-language series took the third place in a couple of weeks of viewing with 752.5 million hours of viewing. And the growth curve of its popularity coincides with the growth rate of the cult South Korean “Squid Game”. This series is a spin-off of the Addams Family story, which our viewers met in the early 1990s through the Barry Sonnenfeld movie cycle (although the first Addams comic came out in 1938, there was a cult series in the 1960s). It is dedicated to the daughter of the family of aristocratic goths Addams – Wednesday. She is a teenager with a bunch of complexes, like most children her age. But in the new film, she was endowed with traits inherent in a huge number of supermen: from Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes to Hellboy and Blade. The postmodern series itself could have become a passing mystical TV saga with elements of black comedy, if not for the talent of director Tim Burton, who gave the project depth and provided it with the author's style. It turned out to be the perfect production product.
A couple of friends-colleagues of screenwriters and producers known in Hollywood – American Alfred Gough and Briton Miles Millar (“Secrets of Smallville”, “Charlie's Angels”, “The Expendable”) know how to work with superhero cinema. They wrote a near-perfect screenplay based on the Addams Family comic strip by artist Charles Addamas. “Almost”, because it is largely postmodern – it has a lot of borrowings. The finding of Gough and Millar is that they decided to enter the Addams family into a superhero story, taking certain developments from the most popular projects of the last twenty years, which were great for a teenage audience. This is the initial alignment.
In the center of the plot is a difficult teenager-psychic Wednesday, whose parents, goth aristocrats, were tired of changing schools and sent her to their own – for the so-called “outcasts” (vampires, werewolves, sirens, gorgons) – Nevermore. The name of the institution is in honor of the poem by Edgar Allan Poe, he is also her former student. The monster in the neighborhood is killing people. The sheriff is at a loss, he is forced to spin nonsense about a bear. The girl gets the opportunity to reveal her detective abilities, she is also finishing her third detective novel at the age of 16. The series is the story of her growing up and “fitting” into a motley school team with two parallel investigations: an external one – exposing a werewolf monster, and an internal one – unraveling her visions in order to find out her pedigree and her own destiny. All this is happening against the backdrop of a long-standing confrontation in the town of Jericho – outcasts (magical individuals) and normis (ordinary people).
Where did the screenwriters get their ideas from: “Harry Potter”, “Hellboy”, “Sherlock Holmes”, “Blade”, “Castle”, “Flight of the Bat”
First on the list – of course, “Harry Potter “. There are many parallels in the “Wednesday” series from the “Potteriana”, the main one – the scene – a school for magical children. The world of the town of Jericho is divided into outcasts (special) and normis (inhabitants), and JK Rowling into magicians (special) and Muggles (inhabitants). Nevermore and Hogwarts are sister schools.
Harry Potter and Wednesday Addams have a lot in common – they are school detectives with supernatural abilities investigating especially serious crimes somehow related to their places of study. Both of them have detective abilities, like Sherlock Holmes, but Wednesday, like Sherlock, also perfectly owns a violin instrument – in her case, a cello.
From “Hellboy” in the series, the idea that initially seemed to be “hellish” a creature that is a schoolgirl Wednesday, serves to expose evil.
As well as the protagonist of the movie cycle of the same name – the vampire Blade (the mother of the hero is an ordinary woman, the father is a vampire), who destroys vampires. The TV series “Wednesday” is completely taken from the scene from “Blade” in 1998, when blood is sprayed on the dancers from the fire safety system in the ceiling at the disco, only here it is red paint imitating blood.
An important storyline, when one of the criminals is related to the police, taken by the authors from the cult detective novel by the Norwegian writer Jo Nesbe “Flight of the Bat” (1997).
Wednesday herself writes detective novels, while investigating real crimes and thus trying to help the police. Writer-detective Richard Castle does exactly the same – he is the main character of the series “Castle”.
Wednesday fights like Bruce Lee – sweeping three opponents at once with powerful kung fu techniques. Why Bruce and not, for example, Jackie Chan? Because the fighting style is not a multi-move, but like in “Enter the Dragon”: everything happens quickly and hard.
This is Wednesday's features borrowed from male supermen.
Superwoman was also a little shocked – from “Queen's Move” and “Pulp Fiction”
The dance that Jenna Ortega's Wednesday performs in Episode 4 at the school's “Crow Ball” to the song “Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps is reminiscent of Uma Thurman's antics with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
The frostbitten manner of almost not smiling and staring hypnotically with huge eyes is taken for Wednesday from the heroine Anya Taylor-Joy – a child prodigy, chess champion from the sensational 2020 TV series The Queen's Move (based on the story of the “female” Bobby Fischer). Only Burton brought all this to the gothic grotesque: Wednesday, played by American actress Jenna Ortega, never smiles. She generally has a minimum of facial expressions. Her facial expressions are replaced by expressive eye movements – this is her main reaction to events in the picture. Just like the heroine of “The Queen's Move”, Wednesday is more confident than all the men and women around, whoever they are. Children and even more so.
Tim Burton can do anything!
It is clear that with such a huge number of borrowings, a vinaigrette could turn out. But the series is complete. Because the main link of the project is the author's style of Tim Burton. He is listed as one of three directors (directed 4 episodes out of 8) and co-producer.
This is exactly his feature – an outcast man: from “From Edward Scissorhands” to “Dead Bride”. Only here, adjusted for the presentation of the main character in a superheroic vein, as in a fantasy western: there is a light hero against a dark environment, and here a dark hero against a light environment. It's funny that even Wednesday's striped black and blue school uniform is much darker than Wednesday's.
The superhero presentation of the main character comes immediately, from the first appearance of the head with pigtails in the frame: this is me, this is others. Moreover, all this is all seasoned with subtle “adult humor”. “Hell is others,” the schoolgirl quotes the French philosopher. “Sartre is my first love.” Aikyu is over the roof. She is an ideal superheroine for teenagers who turn all their complexes (ruffiness, causticity, otherness) to the benefit of themselves and others.
The main shifter of the project
One shifter works globally in the series: Wednesday is declared terrible, but, in fact, she is the very embodiment of virtue: decisive, courageous, active, strong-willed, devoted, consistent. And vice versa – the normis, who seem harmless, constantly under the guise of a sweet philistine, expose the features of sadistic fanatics and murderers.
To emphasize the significance of any Wednesday action, Jenna Ortega's character is accompanied by formidable but beautiful cello music, as if she were playing it herself. When the Normis orchestra scatters after a deliberate explosion and fire at the opening of the monument, Wednesday continues to play alone Vivaldi's hurricane “Storm” against the backdrop of violent flames – one of the best scenes of the picture.
Her father and mother – Gomez (Luis Guzman) and Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) – are a romantic couple who, despite their outward goth, are endowed with the same virtues as their daughter. They are armed with a strong life rule: all the worst that can happen to you is for the better, it will only temper your character. And all the ostentatious best, as a rule, hides rottenness.
As for the Addams spouses, they still have a passionate, romantic love that has been connecting them for three decades, since school. Wednesday also helped unravel the old crime story in which the parents were involved.
It can be added that the series still has many references to various teenage projects: from Twilight to Stranger Things, which only expanded young audience of the picture.
The plot is also not original, but the action competently goes up to the finale, where the main battle will take place between the normis (formally fighting for good) and the outcasts (formally being supposedly the embodiment of evil). Since the masks will be thrown off, the viewer will easily decide who is who.
The output is a bright postmodern picture, where the main stabilizer is Tim Burton's humor and style. She, of course, must be seen. First of all, Wednesday's image is a bomb, everyone is interested in following her adventures. And, secondly, the picture unobtrusively teaches important things: courage, openness, acceptance of external eccentricities, dissimilarity, since a kind, sympathetic soul often hides behind them. And on the contrary, they are distrustful of ostentatious virtue, since often a “black heart” is found behind them, like one of the antagonists of the tape, to which grateful townspeople erect a monument even in the series. Involuntarily, you will think: why do we ourselves erect monuments to some historical figures, and then we ourselves overthrow them. Do we ourselves remind the inhabitants of Jericho?