Catherine Called Birdy ending explained – is it different from the book ending?

By Marc Miller
Published: October 8, 2022 (Last updated: December 18, 2023)

We discuss the ending of the Prime Video film Catherine Called Birdy which will contain spoilers.

Based on the Karen Cushman young adult novel of the same name, Catherine Called Birdy follows the titular character in a coming-of-age story with a twist. Catherine, or “Birdy,” is growing up in medieval 13th-century England. At the tender age of 14 years old, Birdy is a delightful young lady. She is precocious, curious, and has a good heart. She has her beloved Nurse Maid, Morwenna (Lesley Sharp), her doting mother, Lady Aislinn (Billie Piper), her annoying brother, Robert (Dean-Charles Chapman), and her immature father, Lord Rollo (Andrew Scott). Unfortunately, her father spends money on useless items like a tiger from Siberia. This puts his family in a vulnerable position. After assessing their financial problems, he concludes that his most wealthy asset is his only daughter, Birdy.

As each wealthy suitor shows up, the spunky Birdy manages to scare them away. Catherine hopes her Uncle George (The Favourite‘s Joe Alwyn) will save her. But he has his eyes on Birdy’s best friend, Aelis (Isis Hainsworth). But as we find throughout the picture, who one loves does not mean one will be the one who will marry, as women, especially the virgin variety, are worth their weight in gold. Catherine has also been raised to be an independent thinker. Birdy is a free spirit who can read and write. She keeps a journal that her favorite sibling, Edward, who is training to be a monk, suggests. This is where we hear Birdy’s innermost thoughts.

After fending off many suitors, Birdy has concluded that her behavior may be selfish as hard as this is to believe. So, her family is pushing her to go away with a vile man named Shaggy Beard (Paule Kaye). She takes the money the man gifted her (he also paid Lord Rollo the appropriate dowery) to her brother Robert. Why? So he can properly pay for the dowery for such a beautiful virgin, Birdy’s best friend, Aelis.

Catherine Called Birdy ending explained

As Robert and Aelis enjoy their wedding, the night ends with Birdy being taken back by Shaggy Beard. When the stagecoach pulls away, the entire family is upset, including her father, Lord Rollo. As Shaggy Beard explains to Catherine that his health has never been good and he coughs all over her, he trusts she knows how to take care of such things. Then, Birdy’s father appears at the side of the coach. He demands his daughter back even though he accepts the payment. At first, Shaggy Beard refuses but decides to challenge this weak man to a duel.

At first, we think we may have seen the last of Lord Rollo because Shaggy Beard gave him a bloody gash on his torso. We can even see him letting Birdy go because his wife had just given birth to a beautiful baby girl a few days before. However, he regains strength, knocks away the large man’s sword, and when he is about to win, Sir John Henry claims he has a back issue and says the duel is off. He tries to escape with Birdy, but the whole town stops the coach from moving, and her father pulls her to safety. The final scenes show all the people who have now coupled up and a man riding a horse in the distance behind Birdy while she plays in the field.

It should be noted the ending here is different from the book. The novel has Shaggy Beard dying, and Birdy marries his son. The ending here chooses to be more hopeful.

What did you think of the ending of the Prime Video film Catherine Called Birdy? Comment below!

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