You have to feel for Hanna (Esme Cree Miles), the protagonist of the new Amazon Prime show Hanna, which drops in its entirety on March 29. Until the age of 16, a few isolated square miles in the forests of Poland are all she’s ever known. She’s deprived of the habitats of a teenage girl with no school cafeterias and no weekends spent wandering around malls.
Why the extreme isolation? Hanna’s father, Erik (Joel Kinnaman of Altered Carbon), is an ex-CIA agent and still the target of a fervent search. But Hanna doesn’t know that — all she knows are survival skills. Since before she could walk, Erik has been training his daughter to be an assassin. Her skills would rival 007’s: She can shoot targets, speak several languages fluently, and drop-kick someone twice her size. Yet Hanna’s understanding of the outside world is severely limited.
However, being raised in the wilderness doesn’t mean she’s exempt from teenage rebellion. At the age of 16, she bolts from the strict perimeter her father has established around the cave they call home (really, it’s a cave). She meets a young Polish man who’s clearly not expecting to meet a half-feral girl. From this meeting, Hanna realizes the world is far bigger than the one she’s built with her father. It’s almost like she purposefully gets caught on camera, signaling her location to the CIA.
And so begins Hanna’s journey out of Poland. After the CIA catches up to her father and herself, Hanna is transported to a secret facility in Morocco. Ensuing adventures have her traipsing throughout Europe. It’s a blood-soaked semester abroad, of sorts.
The Amazon Prime show is the second interpretation of Hanna's tale. David Farr’s Hanna script was first turned into a movie in 2011, directed by Joe Wright of Atonement. Compared to the Amazon Prime show, which is shot like a gritty action thriller, Wright’s film borrowed from the fairy tale tradition to tell this off-kilter coming-of-age story.
The film and movie take decidedly different approaches to the script — including their settings. In Wright’s version of the story, Hanna grows up in the tundra of Finland, not the forests of Poland. The film was shot in northern Finland, 25 miles south of the Arctic circle and 25 miles from Russia.
The location was chosen for its stark, strange beauty. “Finland did bring out the fairy tale aspects of the story. We were shooting on a frozen lake, surrounded by pine trees covered in snow,” Saoirse Ronan, who starred as Hanna, said in an interview with Focus Features.
We could think of worse ideas than a Hanna-themed tour around the world.