Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Best Girl Power films

It’s the International Women’s Day today, so I decided to remember the best films that celebrate strong females. I find it so sad that the majority of female characters in films are either supporting a male protagonist or are portrayed as objects of desire without much personality. Just makes you wonder how it all started. I guess, the fact that most directors are men suggests a more voyeuristic and appraising approach to filming women, but then what about the scriptwriters? Why are the women in films often needy, romance-crazed, weak, obsessed with their appearance and in need of a strong shoulder to cry on? Surely, this cannot reflect real life. At least I hope it doesn’t. Even successful actresses often complain that there are hardly any interesting roles available, many end up drowning in the quicksands of romcoms. On the other hand, when there is a film made about an interesting female character, they become instantly recognisable and their characters turn into icons of feminist pop culture. Which, of course, often begets creepy men lusting after them. It really is a vicious circle; sex sells whether we like it or not. The list I came up with has different kinds of women in it, some are clever, some are not, some are weak and develop their strengths later, others exploit their sex appeal to their own advantage. Imperfect, deeply flawed and mesmerising to watch, these ladies are the ones to behold.

Run Lola Run. 1998
Dir.: Tom Tykwer
With: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu

The defining film of German cinema in the 90s. It follows Lola, who must save her boyfriend’s sorry ass from the guys he owes money to. There are three different endings, it’s interesting to see which one you’d like best, depending on whether you are a romantic, a cynic or an optimist.

Thelma & Louise. 1991
Dir.: Ridley Scott
With: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davies

Although it is hailed as a feminist milestone, I think that Thelma & Louise is largely a story of an escape from the grime of everyday life and finding yourself once you think you’ve lost everything. It also marks Brad Pitt’s breakthrough appearance in film.

Nikita. 1990
Dir.: Luc Besson
With: Anne Parillaud, Jean Reno

In fact, this could be any other film by Besson. He always has stories about outlandish females who are pretty awesome and can really kick ass. I think it is Nikita’s mixture of fragility and strength that makes it such a successful film.

Gone With the Wind. 1939
Dir.: David O. Selznick
With: Vivien Leigh, Clarke Gable

I re-watched Gone With the Wind the other day when I was hungover in bed. It is such a great story! And Scarlett O’Hara is perhaps the most flawed character ever, which doesn’t make her any less appealing; in fact, I find that it is easier to relate to her because she is never scared to go for what she wants; one can live vicariously through her rascally ways.

Alien. 1979
Dir.: Ridley Scott
With: Sigourney Weaver, Ian Holm

Sounds like Ridley Scott also likes his strong females, which is quite interesting, considering that he is said to be quite the macho himself. Sigourney Weaver’s Officer Ripley is probably the most strong-willed character in the cinematic history, with a huge capacity for survival. As we know, the character was originally male. Shame about the shitty sequels.

Legally Blonde, 2001
Dir.: Robert Luketic
With: Reese Witherspoon, Luke Wilson

Isn’t this just a great film? It strikes the perfect balance between comedy, caricature and tackling some real issued at hand. And Elle is the most adorable creature, even in her Barbie pink outfits.

Erin Brockovich, 2000
Dir.: Steven Soderbergh,
With: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney

Single mother, leopard-print bra, industrial poisoning = winning combination for an Oscar.

Silence of the Lambs, 1991
Dir.: Jonathan Demme
With: Anthony Hopkins, Jodie Foster.

The symbiotic relationship between Clarice Starling, an FBI agent, and Hannibal Lecter, a cannibalistic psychiatrist, is one of the most interesting and disturbing dynamics in recent cinema. Although, the power often lies in Lecter’s hands, Clarice is never too chicken to face him, or herself for that matter, to get to the truth of things.

Kill Bill vol. 1, 2003
Dir.: Quentin Tarantino
With: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah

A feminist’s wet dream.

And finally, food for thought from 007:

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