Sofia Coppola responds to controversy around ‘The Beguiled’

The director has been criticised for excluding a slave character featured in the novel the film is based on

Sofia Coppola has responded to controversy around her latest film, The Beguiled.

The movie is based on the 1966 novel by Thomas Cullinan and follows a previous film adaption of the book in 1971. The Beguiled stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice as women at girls’ boarding school who take in an injured enemy soldier (Colin Farrell) during the Civil War.

Some have criticised the film for excluding Mattie, a slave character featured in the novel. Coppola has explained the reasoning behind the character’s non-presence, saying her version of the story is set in America’s south during the Civil War when men were away fighting and many slaves had left.

“I wanted to tell the story of the isolation of these women, cut off from the world and in denial of a changing world,” she wrote in a piece on IndieWire. “I also focused on how they deal with repression and desire when a man comes in to their abandoned world, and how this situation affects each of them, being at different stages of their life and development.

“I thought there were universal themes, about desire and male and female power dynamics that could relate to all women.”