Movie Preview: Sucker Punch

Zack Snyder, director of 300 and Watchmen, has a new film project coming out in 2011 that may be of interest to genre-loving libertarians: the upcoming movie Sucker Punch. It may not have an overtly libertarian theme or plot, but it does appear to center around an issue that is relevant to libertarians, particularly women and libertarians interested in the time period in the US in which this film is set, the 1950s.

The premise and setting of Sucker Punch remind me of Angelina Jolie’s film Changeling, directed by Clint Eastwood, written by J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame, and set in 1928. Both films depict periods in the United States in which it was all too easy to commit someone, particularly a woman, to a mental institution against her will. In Changeling, Jolie’s character is involuntarily committed to the local hospital’s psychopathic ward by a corrupt cop for political/job preservation reasons. In Sucker Punch, the main character, Baby-Doll (what’s with the name?), is involuntarily committed to a mental institution and scheduled for a barbaric lobotomy. I suppose we’ll have to wait to find out why and by whom she was committed.

So, in Sucker Punch, as in Changeling, it appears we will be presented with a story illustrating (wrongful) involuntary commitment, the unequal status of women in recent US history, a struggle for freedom and to maintain one’s sanity in an oppressive medical institution where the authorities insist you are insane. Unlike Changeling, which was a historical film, Sucker Punch will be an action fantasy.

Here is a brief description of the movie from its Wikipedia page. And don’t miss the video preview below. Oddly, the Wikipedia article mentions the film will be a musical but we get no hint of this in the trailer.

Snyder has described the film as “Alice in Wonderland with machine guns”, including dragons, B-52 bombers and brothels. Snyder’s wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder concludes, “in the end, it’s about this girl’s survival and what she needs to do to be able to cope.” In November 2010, Warner Bros released the official synopsis for the film:

“Sucker Punch” is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality.  Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what’s real and what is imaginary.

She has been locked away against her will at Lennox House for the Mentally Insane (in BrattleboroVermont), but Baby-Doll (Emily Browning) has not lost her will to survive.  Determined to fight for her freedom, she urges four other young girls—the outspoken Rocket (Jena Malone), the street-smart Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens), the fiercely loyal Amber (Jamie Chung) and the reluctant Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish)—to band together and try to escape their terrible fate at the hands of their captors, Blue (Oscar Isaac), Madam Gorski (Carla Gugino) and the High Roller (Jon Hamm).

Led by Baby-Doll, the girls engage in fantastical warfare against everything from samurai to serpents, with a virtual arsenal at their disposal.  Together, they must decide what they are willing to sacrifice in order to stay alive.  But with the help of Wiseman (Scott Glenn), their unbelievable journey—if they succeed—will set them free.

Cross-posted at Prometheus Unbound.

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