Pippi Longstocking: Changing The Archetype

In the recent years, we have seen a shift into how young women are depicted on the silver screens. Usually, they are rather flat characters, confronted with the usual problems known to trouble all the teenagers (such as boyfriends, looks, high school popularity, and even unexpected pregnancies). But there are also a few filmmakers that dare to go beyond these stereotypes and create different female characters, around which a more compelling story is created.

Such is the case of Debra Granik, the director of Winter’s Bone, for which Jennifer Lawrence received her first Oscar nomination (she was 21 at that time). As the director says, the audiences find these heroines to be fresh and even unexpected. They don’t need a boyfriend to see them through difficult situations, just like they don’t need to show some skin in order to receive the public’s admiration.

If we go back a little further in time, we can see that Pippi Longstocking is exactly this kind of a character, even if she is way younger than any of today’s heroines (even younger than True Grit’s Mattie Ross).

Pippi is definitely a girl that can provide herself with everything she needs, without the help of anyone else. She lives all alone, she is able to make friends based only on her personality, she has a strong sense of justice (even if she hasn’t received any formal education): she is the archetype of the girls/young heroines that appear in nowadays movies.

Even more, it seems that some of these new characters are based directly on Pippi Longstocking. Such is the case of Lisbeth Salander, the famous hacker/rebel from Millennium Trilogy. Stieg Larsson said that it was his intention of creating a grown-up Pippi and placing her into the real world: as an adult, she would be called a sociopath (or, at least, that is what Stieg Larsson says).

A couple of years ago (in 2011) it was said that Debra Granik has taken the task of updating and bringing Pippi Longstocking on the silver screens. I don’t know what update means in this case, but I believe that this kind of a heroine will find success not only with the younger audience, but also with the adult one.

Until then, I can only revisit the movies/series made until now.

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