Who better to bring one of children literature’s most famous heroines, Pippi Longstocking, back to the big screen than an acclaimed filmmaker whose previous project revolved around a fiercely independent young woman who courageously confronts drug-smugglers and other unscrupulous types in order to protect her family?
Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) may not seem quite the perfect fit to adapt Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s red-haired creation at first glance, but the writer/director has taken on the job and is currently working on a new Pippi Longstocking movie.
In a recent LA Times article that covered the evolution of traditionally dumbed-down female characters in movies – and highlighted Winter’s Bone along with True Grit as films that bucked this trend – there was a bit of information about a new Pippi Longstocking pic being in the works. It seems that Granik and her Winter’s Bone co-writer/producer Anne Rosellini are currently penning a treatment for the children’s literature adaptation – however, there’s no word yet about whether the pair will actually write the screenplay or if Granik has plans to direct.
For those not familiar with the character, Pippi Longstocking is a nine-year-old girl with fiery red hair and pigtails that stick out horizontally. A slightly more realistic female counterpart to Peter Pan, Pippi possesses superhuman strength (she can lift her horse with one hand), lives in an unusual house called Villa Villekulla with her monkey, Mr. Nilsson, and is a irrepressibly free spirit who delights in giving pompous and condescending adults their comeuppance. Sidebar – the late Stieg Larsson envisioned the character of Lisbeth Salander (a.k.a. the titular lead in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) as a grown-up version of Miss Longstocking.
A number of capable young female characters in literature have made the jump to the big screen in recent years. Besides Ree Dolly from Winter’s Bone and Mattie Ross in True Grit, there’s also Hermione in the Harry Potter films; a more battle-ready Alice that appeared in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland; and 16-year-old Katnis Everdeen will fight for her life in the upcoming adaptation of The Hunger Games as well. That’s not to forget the most deadly adolescent from literature (yes, comic books count) who leapt off the big screen last year – Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass.
It’s a pleasant change of pace to see that there are more teenage female characters in movies who actively take control of their destiny, are able to handle themselves in dangerous circumstances without assistance – and whose lives involve more than just romance (Bella from Twilight, looking at you). What better time for Miss Longstocking to make her return to theaters than now?
We’ll keep you updated on the development of the new Pippi Longstocking movie as more news is released.
Header Image Art by Sarah Mensinga