Cathy Yan’s Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) is aiming to come together unlike any comic book movie you’ve ever seen. Because the driving perspective of the film belongs to a spunky psychopath, reality is portrayed with a special distortion that only the mind of Harley Quinn can provide. It should make for a unique cinematic experience when the feature arrives in theaters in a couple months, and part of that will be because of the way in which the production drew from an eclectic assembly of inspirations.
Even when working to craft something wholly original it makes sense to take lessons from the greats, and that’s precisely what director Cathy Yan, writer Christina Hodson, and star/producer Margot Robbie aimed for in the making of Birds of Prey. Yan and Robbie both explained as much earlier this year when members of the press were invited to the set of the film while it was still in production.
Going back to the movie operating with an unreliable narrator, evidence suggests that Birds of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) won’t be delivering a totally straight-forward narrative, and in that venture Cathy Yan looked to some of the best non-linear films ever made: Quentin Tarantino’s scrambled anthology Pulp Fiction, and Akira Kurosawa’s perspective-shifting Rashomon. The director explained,
Continuing the trend of discussing crime movies, both Cathy Yan and Margot Robbie also namechecked a particular film that is specifically influencing one of Birds of Prey’s key relationships. A significant part of the narrative finds the seriously irresponsible Harley Quinn trying to protect young Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco) from the evil forces at the disposal of crime kingpin Roman Sionis a.k.a. Black Mask (Ewan McGregor), and cinephiles will hopefully note that their bond has a bond similar to the one between Jean Reno’s Leon and Natalie Portman’s Mathilda in Luc Besson’s classic Leon: The Professional.
Based on our interviews, this came about because of a discussion that Margot Robbie had with Christina Hodson during the development of the script, and became a part of the work when they discovered their shared appreciation for the film. Said the actress/producer,
Clearly Birds Of Prey (And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn) looked to some fantastic works when determining the best way to structure the film’s story, but Cathy Yan noted that outside influence didn’t stop there. Again, because of the perspective of the story, this is going to be a Gotham City unlike any we’ve ever seen before on the big screen, and part of that comes from particular cinematic inspiration.
Discussing the special aesthetic Birds of Prey is playing with, the director highlighted the work done with production designer K.K. Barrett in the creation of the Black Mask Club, owned and operated by Roman Sionis. For that particular interior, Yan had Stanley Kubrick’s legendary A Clockwork Orange in mind – specifically the Korova Milk Bar that is featured throughout the movie: