Hester Shaw (or how I learnt to love her without a grotesque scar)

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Spoilers about the film and book below.

Many ME fans speculated that Hester Shaw would not have her horrific scar in the Mortal Engines movie.

When the first trailer came out, we were nervous as even though Hester had a red scarf covering her face and she had two eyes (also why does she have a red scarf before he meets Tom? He gave it to her ...)

Many fans thought it was a key thing about the character, indeed it kind of turned a cliche about the heroine always being quite pretty on its head. 

Turns out, Hester's scar 'tis just but a scratch' compared to how it's described in the novel.

Author Philip Reeve who created the character was quite clear on her scarification when he said:

"But it struck me that people who live by their wits in wastelands tend not to be that glamorous or good looking, and who cares about beautiful people anyway?
So I decided right from the start to make Hester ugly, and I liked the idea that the hero would slowly fall in love with her anyway, which is far more interesting than having two gorgeous people seeing each other across a crowded room and falling in love.

Then it seemed to make sense to give Hester a scar, which she's received at the hands of the villain, so there's her initial motivation - revenge - right there on her face; she's like Captain Ahab with his missing leg!"

Hester Shaw became quite the iconic if not a cult figure for those that love the Mortal Engines series. 

I love her for the simple reason she killed a man with a typewriter in Infernal Devices. 

But, there's money to be made with a Peter Jackson produced Mortal Engines movie, and you can't sell a big Hollywood film with an ugly woman. 

You apparently just can't even though Charlize Theron won an Oscar for playing an ugly serial killer in Monster. 

So enter Hera Hilmar, an apparently lovely lass and an actress deemed worthy of playing Hester Shaw (no mention on Twitter about her typewriting skills though).

So Christian Rivers and PJ have sat down and gone, we can't make bank with our lead looking like Aileen Wournous, we need some eye candy aye? So what if we toned down that scar? 

And the producers started laughing all the way to their bank. 

And the fan boys and fan girls went, 'you gone fucked up PJ' (literally, I saw that on twitter somewhere).

Sure I've tweeted some of that sentiment and wondered about what could have been but then I was sitting down with a nice hoppy beer after emptying the dishwasher, folding some towels and I thought, why does a scar really matter?

I mean really?

Hester has a million reasons to hate herself, a scar is but one.

If the idea of Hester's character is that she is 'broken' then it doesn't matter how she looks, what matters is how the movie sets up how she feels. I think I 'd be pretty pissed if my parents had both been murdered and I then had to spend my formative years being raised by a kind of zombie robot called Shrike that used to be a man who has hands for knives. He's basically the complete opposite of C3PO.

That's reason enough to be the unhappy, moody and even murderous Hester Shaw. 


So, this Mortal Engines fan has to get with the program and simply accept that Hester will not have a grotesque scar in the film. 

And you know what? I'm going to guess that Mortal Engines has sold say 400,000 copies. I really have no idea. 

Let's say 10,000 of those readers REALLY CARE about the scar. 


No matter what. 

But if Peter Jackson and Christen Rivers want to make $500 million bank on this film, they gotta get bums on seats and those bums will not have read the book, they will not care about a scar they never knew existed and they will simply enjoy a film where the city of London runs around trying to eat other cities. 

So no scar for you, just a bad ass Anna Fang.

So, let's just hope Hester has a really good bitchy resting face...


  1. Funniest part is, the scar is actually worse than I expected it to be, if you take a look, you can see it going over a solid part of her face, and snaking up her cheek, it's not massive, but larger than a "cute scratch" as Reeve jokes about in Infernal Devices

  2. Well, I only started looking into the books because I saw the trailer...quite honestly I find the scar as in the trailer distracting enough. If they'd done it the way I see it described as in the books, there's no way I'd be watching. I can't stare at that for two hours, and I certainly wouldn't believe a love story. And all the people claiming it's sexist seem to be missing the fact that Tyrion Lannister still has his nose, too.


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top