Ammonite release date, cast, plot: All about Mary Anning biopic

Ammonite: Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan star in trailer

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Ammonite follows the story of ground-breaking archaeologist Mary Anning, whose study of fossils changed our thinking of the Jurassic period. The work she did in Lyme Regis and along the Dorset coast is renowned, and the area is still known today for its paleontological findings.

When is Ammonite released in cinemas?

Ammonite is to be released on March 26 in the UK, having first premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2020.

Usually a film such as this would be released in cinemas, however, that will not be the case in the UK as these will not be open.

As a result, the film will be available to rent on a premium video-on-demand basis, with the distributors saying it is available on ‘all digital platforms’ which would include Amazon Prime, Roku TV, BFI Player and iTunes.

At the moment, it is not available on streaming platforms like Netflix or NOW TV.

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What is Ammonite about?

The official synopsis reads: “In the 1840s, acclaimed self-taught palaeontologist Mary Anning works alone on the wild and brutal Southern English coastline of Lyme Regis.

“The days of her famed discoveries behind her, she now hunts for common fossils to sell to rich tourists to support herself and her ailing widowed mother.

“When one such tourist, Roderick Murchison, arrives in Lyme on the first leg of a European tour, he entrusts Mary with the care of his young wife Charlotte, who is recuperating from a personal tragedy.

“Mary, whose life is a daily struggle on the poverty line, cannot afford to turn him down but, proud and relentlessly passionate about her work, she clashes with her unwanted guest. They are two women from utterly different worlds.

“Yet despite the chasm between their social spheres and personalities, Mary and Charlotte discover they can each offer what the other has been searching for: the realisation that they are not alone.

“It is the beginning of a passionate and all-consuming love affair that will defy all social bounds and alter the course of both lives irrevocably.”

The accuracy of the story has been called into question, with there being no evidence of Mary’s homosexuality.

Barbara Anning, a relative of Mary’s, said of the portrayal: “I do not believe there is any evidence to back up portraying her as a gay woman.

“Do the film-makers have to resort to using unconfirmed aspects to somebody’s sexuality to make an already remarkable story sensational? This adds nothing to her story.”

Francis Lee, the director and writer of the film, has defended her decision to portray this relationship, writing on Twitter before the film was made: “It has come to my attention there is huge speculation about my new film and the ‘controversial’ flames that have been fanned on a slow ‘news’ story day by newspapers and columnists who haven’t read my script or know anything about my film…

“After seeing queer history be routinely ‘straightened’ throughout culture, and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context…?

“Particularly a woman whose work and life were subjected to the worst aspects of patriarchy, class discrimination and gender imbalance…

“As a working class, queer film maker, I continually explore the themes of class, gender, sexuality within my work, treating my truthful characters with utter respect and I hope giving them authentic respectful lives and relationships they deserve.

“Would these newspaper writers have felt the need to whip up uninformed quotes from self proclaimed experts if the character’s sexuality had been assumed to be heterosexual?

“As filmmakers we try to make the best work possible and perhaps it would be better to wait until that work actually exists before assuming, presuming or critiquing what that work is and how it depicts its subjects and world.

“I would now love to get on with the business of actually making a new film which I hope you will like. Thank you for reading.”

Who is in the cast of Ammonite?

Kate Winslet leads the cast as Mary Anning while Saoirse Ronan plays Charlotte Murchison.

Gemma Jones plays Molly Anning, Mary’s mother, while Fiona Shaw plays her friend Elizabeth Philpot.

Supporting players include James McArdle, Alec Secăreanu and Claire Rushbrook.

Ammonite is released digitally on March 26

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