Film Review: PROFESSOR MARSTEN AND THE WONDER WOMEN (USA 2017) ***

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Professor Marston and the Wonder Women Poster
Trailer

The story of psychologist William Moulton Marston, the polyamorous relationship between his wife and his mistress, the creation of his beloved comic book character Wonder Woman, and the controversy the comic generated.

Director:

Angela Robinson

PROFESSOR MARSTEN AND THE WONDER WOMEN examines the relationship of Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the creator of WONDER WOMAN with his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and the second girl, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote) in their menage a trios.  A man with two women living together with S&M sex including bondage and spanking, set in the 40’s does not an easy film make.  Credit therefore goes to Robinson for incorporating an uncomfortable subject into a movie for general audiences.  In fact, the film goes to accredit bigamy.  Those that do not agree are said in the film to be simple.  The film will definitely infuriate many. The film does not always work, as do awkward projects.  

The film begins with the rejection of the violence and sex depicted in the Wonder Woman comics.  While appearing at the Board on Enquiry, Dr, Marsten explains his case, while the film flashes back to his marriage and sexual arrangements with Olive under the guise of psychology apprenticeship.   Complications arise when Olive’s two boys come into the picture and when a neighbour enters the house unexpectedly and catches the three in a  sexual bondage act.

For a film promoting the acceptance of S&M and bondage, it is surprising that there are no graphic sex scenes nor even nudity.  Yet the film comes across as disturbing one.  It shows that no graphic scenes are needed to take the sexual content to an different psychological frontier.  By means of intercutting of scenes with the Wonder Woman comic book showing tied up prisoners, whipping and spanking, director Robinson cleverly makes her point.

But if one examines the situation on another level, there is nothing really objectionable.  Many men have mistresses.  The only difference in this case is that the wife is also in love with the mistress.  It also makes the sex affair more congenial for everyone if the three decide to stay together.  Everything works well till society objects.  The same thing happened in the past for gay couples.  They were rejected and ostracized from society with their acts deemed evil.  Now that society has condoned same sex marriages, gays living together are cool.  Robinson recognizes the fact and emphasizes it in one key scene where Marsten screams that it is only society that has to accept them.   As to sexual fetishes, everybody has them, in one form or another.

Robinson is also quick to point out that the film is set in 1928 (though Wonder Woman was created in 1941), at the start and that there is a new psychology that is in the making.  At one point, Professor Marsten says to Olive: “How do you expect to learn about life if you refuse to live it?”   Some psychology is also thrown into the film for good measure, like Marsten’s explanation of the 4 categories of dominance, compliance, inducement and submission.  This enhances the credibility of the characters and the plot of the film.

After viewing PROFESSOR MARSTEN AND THE WONDER WOMEN, one will never look at the WONDER WOMAN comics again in the same light.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r991pr4Fohk

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