After viewing the 2005 film Elizabethtown, critic Nathan Rabin coined the phrase ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’. He described this as; “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely…to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.”
To fit into the category of being a MPDG, this female character will be extrovert, eccentric and quirky. They are often paired against a brooding or depressed male character, to show him that adult life can be fun and exciting.
Although the phrase was first written in 2005, the idea of an MPDG in film can be traced back as early as 1939, to Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby, in which she stared opposite Cary Grant.
Over the years, there has been criticism of the MPDG description, with some saying it lumps all female characters in film to the same group. It has also been noted that these characters aren’t written just to parallel a male character, but instead they often have their own goals and aims within the narrative.
Well known Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s from across the years have included;
- Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961)
- Barbra Streisand in What’s Up, Doc? (1972)
- Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1977)
- Charlize Theron in Sweet November (2001)
- Natalie Portman in Garden State (2004)
- Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown (2005)
- Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer (2009)
What are your thoughts on this label? Who is your favourite Manic Pixie Dream Girl? Let me know in the comments below!