New film ‘Damsel’ dismantles gender roles

“There are many stories of chivalry, where the heroic knight saves the damsel in distress. This is not one of them,” was the opening line of “Damsel,” Netflix’s latest film released on March 8, otherwise known as International Women’s Day. 

Like many during their childhood, I was mesmerized by fairy tales and Disney princesses. These stories were best known for sharing how the brave, handsome prince or knight heroically fights the villain, whether it be a fire-breathing dragon, a witch or an evil queen, and saves the princess from deep trouble. The princesses in these fairy tales are considered the “damsels in distress.” 

According to, the term means “a person, usually a young woman, who needs to be rescued from danger or trouble of some kind.” Therefore, as the opening line of the film indicates, “Damsel” is a fairy tale with a different, darker twist.

Millie Bobby Brown, best known for her role as Eleven in “Stranger Things,” stars as the lead character, Princess Elodie, the daughter of a Lord. The main plot of the film is that Elodie reluctantly agrees, under the expectations of her father, to marry a prince of a wealthy royal family. 

All seems perfect, and Elodie and her newly-wedded husband look as if they are living happily ever after. Things quickly turn for the worse when Elodie is thrown into a cave as a sacrifice to a fire-breathing dragon. With no one to save her, she must rely on herself to survive. 

This dark twist presented in “Damsel” is not typically seen in fairy tales or Disney films. As someone who grew up obsessing over fantasies and eventually supernatural/horror, this dark fantasy of how the princess rescues herself caught my eye. 

One of the harshest truths of life no one likes to admit is no one is coming to save you. I have learned this the hard way from personal life experiences. The stories of how the princesses expect their princes or knights in shining armor to save them give women in real life the false expectation that they must be saved and are incapable of saving themselves. 

Elodie proves throughout the film that she is more than capable of being independent, as she rescues herself from being killed by the fire-breathing dragon. I loved this because this gives audiences a huge, essential reminder that only you can save yourself and only you are responsible for your life, how you react and how you handle the obstacles you face.  

What I loved most about the film was how it was released on International Women’s Day, and they show a female fighting the villain instead of the male. At the beginning of the film, Elodie fulfills the duties of what she’s told to do, lacking trust and respect for herself. 

Then, at the end, Elodie does what’s best for her and those she loves. She boldly stands up for herself, becomes independent and earns the trust and respect she had been looking for within herself. 

Her character arc, I think, represents the growth and maturation process we must go through and shows women are more than capable of being warriors and leaders. Elodie is the perfect example of what a strong, powerful and confident woman looks like. The relationship she has with her sister and stepmother is also a great example of how empowering womanhood is. 

The fantasy aspect of the film, including the dragon, gave “Game of Thrones” vibes. Brown’s performance was very well done, and she would make another great Mother of Dragons in the future. So, if you’re a fantasy lover, a “Game of Thrones” fan or a Women’s Rights advocate, then you’ll like this movie. 

“Damsel” is not the typical fairy tale you were told from childhood. It is an action-packed ride that teaches you what it means to be a woman and how to earn respect, trust and, most importantly, love yourself.


4/5 stars


Featured photo courtesy of @milliebobbybrown, Instagram