Excitement mounts as ‘Ammonite’ filming continues

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan have been seen filming scenes for 'Ammonite' in the water at Charmouth beach this week (photo by Richard Austin)

EXCITEMENT surrounding the filming of ‘Ammonite’ – based on the life of Lyme Regis’ famous fossil hunter Mary Anning – continues this week. 

Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet, who is taking the lead role of Anning, and co-star Saoirse Ronan, who is playing Frances Bell, have been spotted on Charmouth beach over the past few days, filming scenes in the water with a bathing machine prop branded with ‘Three Cups Hotel’.

Traditional sailing ship ‘Irene’ was moored in Lyme Regis harbour on Tuesday afternoon, ready for filming

The historic Cobb wall was prepared for filming today (Tuesday) as traditional sailing ship ‘Irene’ – a 100-foot ketch built in Bridgwater in 1907 – arrived in Lyme and was moored in the harbour.

It is understood that filming will take place on the ship over the next few days and the Marine Aquarium on the Cobb will be closed until Saturday, March 23.

The filming of ‘Ammonite’ got underway last week with the Bell Cliff area of Lyme Regis being transformed into an 1840s set.

Shops at Bell Cliff are currently open but are expected to close again on Thursday when filming resumes.

Coombe Street – Lyme’s original high street – is also set to be closed to vehicles on March 27 and 29, and to vehicles and pedestrians on March 28, although access will be allowed for those who live or work in the street.

The cast and crew of ‘Ammonite’ finished their first week of filming with a drinks reception at the Lyme Bay Café Bar on Friday evening.

‘Ammonite’ will follow the relationship between Mary Anning, played by Kate Winslet, and Frances Bell, played by Saoirse Ronan (photo by Richard Austin)

Director defends decision to portray Anning as gay woman

Director Francis Lee – known for his acclaimed film ‘God’s Own Country’ – took to Twitter over the weekend to defend his decision to portray Anning as a gay woman in ‘Ammonite’, which has received some criticism in the national press and has also sparked heated debates on local social media pages.

He wrote: “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 film makers 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.”

For more photos from the filming of ‘Ammonite’, visit the LymeOnline Photo Gallery

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