If you recently watched The Wonder, now streaming on Netflix, you may be pondering its slightly grisly ending. Chilean director Sebastian Lelio’s psychodrama makes you believe in the power of storytelling and how it can change reality. Case in point: The young girl visited by nurse Pew Lib Wright claims she can survive without food, but the truth is anyone can make amazing strings.
Let’s quickly get to the theme of The Wonder, what turned out to be true about the story and why it begins and ends in such a strange way.
What is this strange opening in “The Wonder” Netflix?
You may have reconsidered which film to release after the opening of this strange historical drama. Under the insistent sound of the choir, we see the half-finished building of an ancient two-story house. The camera moves through what looks a lot like a movie studio, full of different equipment and sets. Then actor Niamh Algar said from the start: “Hello. This is the start. The beginning of a film called The Wonder. The people you will meet, the characters, believe in their stories with all their heart. We are nothing without stories, and that is why we invite you to believe them.”
The camera then pans to the interior of the ship sailing for Ireland in 1862, where the Great Famine “still casts a long shadow and the Irish blame the British for the devastation”. He approaches Florence Pugh, who plays British nurse Lib Wright, the story’s protagonist.
Yes, it’s all a bit pretentious. But it effectively establishes the film’s central theme: the power of belief. The whole reason Sister Wright was summoned by a self-appointed commission in Ireland was because many wanted to believe that Anna O’Donnell miraculously went without food for four months. Nurse Wright was assigned to observe the girl for two weeks to see if she was alive.
The setting also awakens us to the conveyance of the story – pretty quickly one is immersed in the creaking, dripping, smoking world of ships and the voyages of the Wright sisters, a voyage the narrator invites us to take.
What did Sister Wright drink every night?
What is real and what is not is also evident in Sister Wright’s addiction to what appear to be liquid opioids. Sister Wright had experienced several tragedies—her baby daughter died and her husband left her not long after—and a nightcap can help her cope. Pricking his finger in blood could be a way to check if he’s alive — or it could be a form of self-harm. Amid the pressures of her current job, the ritual seems to further loosen Nurse Wright’s connection to reality.
Is it true that Anna really doesn’t need to eat anything?
Shortly after Sister Wright moved in with the O’Donnells, we saw young mother Anna leaning very close to her daughter’s face as she lay in bed. Either it looks like a loving kiss on the forehead or something more embarrassing. Nurse Wright immediately stepped up her watch over The Wonder patient, insisting that O’Donnell stay away from Anna. Since then, Anna’s condition has rapidly deteriorated.
About two-thirds of the film, after the committee has been formed, Nurse Wright expresses her assessment of the situation: “Mrs. Anna, Mrs. O’Donnell, fed from his own mouth. He held her face and kissed them good morning and good night, and he fed her daughter like a bird with every kiss.” Because Anna’s mother was prevented from kissing Anna, Anna quickly fell ill and stopped eating.
Why does Anna refuse to eat?
Even after Sister Wright revealed her findings to the committee, Anna’s mother refused to admit the truth. Willing to continue the experiment despite Anna’s death, she and her husband refuse to give up their religious beliefs. Anyway, Anna “chooses” the path to death and believes that when she dies “the soul will be freed … from Hell”. Anna believes this soul is her brother who abused her when she was 9 years old before she died. He is “punished” for his “evil” actions by a terminal illness, but his mother says he will be released to heaven with Anna’s sacrifice. Anna believes it is her duty because she loves her brother back.
What happens to narrator at end in “The Wonder” Netflix?
In the end, Sister Wright uses the power of storytelling and faith to save Anna. After discovering a horrific story that Anna’s mother gave her, Sister Wright convinces Anna of a different destiny: that she can die and make sacrifices, but also be reborn as a 9-year-old child who has experienced no bad deeds.
Nurse Wright fakes a report of Anna dying so the committee don’t press charges against her and burns down the O’Donnell’s house so evidence of a body appears to be destroyed. Escaping Ireland, Nurse Wright, William and Nan safely make it to Australia, posing as the Cheshire family. There, we see them partake in a fancy meal, with Nan shown to be eating again.
To the sound of more hopeful, ethereal tones, the camera pans and we return to the film studio. There, we see Algar dressed in all black, no longer playing Anna’s older sister Kitty, but the mysterious narrator. She whispers: “In. Out. In. Out.” Again, pretentious, but this goes back to the idea of believing in stories and the power of faith.