Isn’t this photo of Renee Zellweger exquisite? (The bunny she’s posed with reminds me of my rabbit, Boxer.) It was taken around the time she starred in the 2007 film Miss Potter — about the life of Beatrix Potter of “Peter Rabbit” fame — a movie which earned Zellweger her sixth Golden Globe nomination.
It’s a film that is not, as you might assume, Disney-esque. Beatrix Potter was a fascinating woman, born into a privileged family with a domineering mother who certainly did not want her daughter to pursue a career, particularly one in writing and illustrating books (the selling of books was considered a trade rather than a profession, not that the mother would would have approved of anything else that fell in the latter category for Beatrix, whom she only hoped to suitably marry off). As such, Miss Potter is about a woman following her dreams (and more than accomplishing them) in Victorian England, and it’s also a story with a romance at the center. The one man who did believe, early on, in Beatrix Potter’s artistry and her ability to market it was Norman Warne (played in the film by Ewan McGregor), the youngest brother of the Warne Brothers publishing firm. While the elder Warne brothers who ran the firm didn’t find her book a viable project to pursue — they considered it foolish — they agreed to give it to Norman, whom they’d promised a project, more or less with the expectation that the responsibility would prove him to be a failure too.
In a sense, Beatrix and Norman were two outsiders (despite their privileged upbringing), and the romance that develops between them, as they turn her work into beautiful children’s books that become best sellers, is charming and tender. Her story doesn’t end there, though, and if you watch this film (via YouTube, where it has been uploaded in its entirety, or Netflix or Amazon), you’ll be amazed by how truly lasting and impressive a mark she made on her country, in ways that go beyond her books. To tempt you into doing so, below I’ve embedded a trailer of the film from YouTube. Enjoy!