NYICFF Movie Spotlight - Calamity Movie Review

Calamity - Image from New York International Children's Film Festival


Do you ever watch a movie that just makes you want to scream, throw things, cheer, and let out all kinds of big emotional responses?  This was my experience watching Calamity as part of the New York International Children's Film Festival.  What a spectacular film!  Set in the American west during the 1800s, the film is in French with English subtitles, but I found myself barely needing them as the artistry and emotion of the film made it easy to follow along.

Calamity Movie Review

Wow!  Calamity was a very "real" movie to watch and had me feeling all kinds of raw emotions throughout.  Martha Jane is a young girl that doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the pioneers heading west to Oregon in the 1800s. Learning to drive a wagon, cutting her hair, wearing pants, and much more make her an outcast among her group where she is flat our bullied and abused by the wagon train members.  Things become to much to bear when she is accused of stealing from members of the wagon train and she runs away.  Out in the wild, alone but brave, young Martha Jane grows into the woman and legend of Calamity Jane.


Calamity - Image from New York International Children's Film Festival



Visually, this movie was like a watercolor painting brought to life.  In a world full of special effects these days, I really appreciate simple animations that so deeply bring the characters and their stories to life.  I don't know how much of the story is actually factual to life of the real Calamity Jane, but the free-spirited nature is certainly present.  Calamity is a great representation of breaking stereotypes.  In the wagon train, Jane is told exactly what to wear and how to act.  When she doesn't conform to these expectations, she is met with horror and fear.  There are scenes that are hard to watch as those in the wagon train treat her with such disdain, but it makes her breaking free from their world even more powerful.


Find more from the 2021 New York International Children's Film Festival here!


About Calamity (From NYICFF)


Calamity - Image from New York International Children's Film Festival



It’s 1863 and 12-year-old Martha Jane and her family are headed West across the United States in search of a better life. After her father is hurt in a serious accident, she takes charge of her siblings and learns to drive the family wagon. Utterly practical and bold, Martha Jane trades her constricting skirts for the ease of boys breeches and never looks back. Her unconventional style and brazenness don't sit well with the pioneer community, and when the leader of the convoy wrongly accuses her of theft, she must run away to find proof of her innocence. In the Wild, she discovers herself and a world which shapes her into the mythical and mysterious Calamity Jane.