Google+ Authentic Parenting: Approved For Girls: Movies

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Approved For Girls: Movies

I have been reading up on feminism and gender a lot lately (you may have noticed from my Sunday Surfs), it has always been a topic that peeked my interest. Now I came across an article by Laura Grace Weldon about disparity between males and females in the Movies (you may remember I posted a similar article about literature a wile back), where she mentions the Bechdel test. In order for a movie to pass this test, they must have at least two female characters of which the name is known to the audience, they must talk to one another and these conversations must be about something other then men. 
An additional criteria I added for this list is that the movies actually portray woman as full characters, not as plain caricature (such as Mean Girls or Sex and the City, which would completely pass Bechdel, but which would not be the image of women I want to incite in my daughter).
Since I wanted to be sure of all these criteria, I only added movies I have seen myself (and can recall) and did not add any movies where the whole point is for the female lead to find love (though for many of the movies on this list, this is a main line).

Composing this list, I realized that most of my all time favorites actually match all these criteria's (1 to 10), these are movies I've seen at lees 20 times each and that never get outdated. And I know a lot of women like these, so women are in search of these movies.
  1. The Color Purple. A magnificent movie, based on a beautiful book and portrayed in such a marvellous way. This is definately 'one to watch'. About how a woman breaks free and emancipates against all odds. It touches numerous topics of interest: homosexuality, racism, slavery, abuse, ... 
  2. True Women. A miniseries about two friends who get seperated at a young age and their lives take very different turns. A wonderful tale of how they both deal with love, loss and the challenges of their times. For women in that day and age, they are both very emancipated. (The right to vote is actually a topic in the movie)
  3. Little Women.
  4. Thelma and Louise
  5. Pride and Prejudice
  6. Kill Bill 
  7. The Breakfast Club
  8. Dirty Dancing
  9. A League of Their Own
  10. Dolores Claiborne
  11. My Fair Lady
  12. The Stepford Wives
  13. Carrie
  14. The Wizard of Oz
  15. Gone with the Wind
  16. Jumpin' Jack Flash. Whoopie Goldberg as a thief
  17. The Young Victoria. A movie about a real princess, the downsides of it and how one woman takes a stance despite what is assumed of the 'weaker' sexe.
  18. The Witches of Eastwick. Sadly most of the conversation is about men.
  19. Mermaids. A touching story about mother and daughter relationships and discovering love and sexuality. Much about the story is about love and men, but the daughhter's search for herself and the single mother family dynamic gets lighted very well.
  20. Raise the Red Lantern. A beautiful historic picture of the concubines of the Chinese emperor. Much of the story is about the women's waiting for the Emperor and their scheming to get the Emperor's favorite to loose his interest, but it is a realistic historic picture, and this it deserves a place in this list. 
  21. Sister Act
  22. Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit
  23. Death Becomes Her. A movie about the cost of an obsession with beauty
  24. Sense and Sensibility. Even though this movie is a lot about relationships, it is also about breaking patterns and choice.
  25. Emma
  26. The Craft. Four young witches create mayhem
  27. Sissi trilogy. Semi-historical movies about how a woman struggles to adapt to life at court. Even though this movie is about princesses, the true story is the hard time Sissy has adapting to the rigid rules, being raised as feminist as they got at that time. 
  28. Freaky Friday. Not the most intelligent movie, but a pretty relax comedy about family relationships. The mother (the fabulous Jamie Lee Curtis) struggles with her teen daughter when she decides to get remarried and they find themselves switching bodies after a Chinese spell
  29. Gia. Biographical story about one of the first supermodels, who battled with drug addictiona nd eentually died of AIDS. Shows the dirty side of the fashion industry.
  30. Girl, Interrupted
  31. Erin Brokovich
  32. Chocolat
  33. Bring It On
  34. Bring It on Again
  35. Bring It on, All or Nothing
  36. Bring It On: In It to Win It
  37. Bring It On: Fight to the Finish
  38. The Others
  39. Legally Blonde
  40. Legally Blond 2: Red, White and Blonde
  41. Tipping the Velvet
  42. The Magdalene Sisters
  43. Blue crush
  44. Under the Tuscan Sun
  45. Calendar Girls
  46. Thirteen
  47. Monster
  48. Transamerica
  49. North Country
  50. In Her Shoes
  51. The Constant Gardener
  52. De Tweeling (Twin Sisters)
  53. The Devil Wears Prada
  54. Persepolis. This is one of the movies I have recently watched that has touched me profoundly. I would recommend it to anyone. It is a true and raw autobiography. Read a review here 
  55. Juno. Although not very realistic, Juno does portray a couple of strong female characters and touches a subject all women think about at some point in their lives: unwanted pregnancy. A more elaborate review here
  56. The Jane Austen Book Club
  57. Hairspray
  58. Becoming Jane
  59. Atonement. How one action can have life changing effects for everyone involved.
  60. The other Boleyn Girl. One of the lesser known women in Henri VIII's amoureuse entanglements.
  61. Coco avant Chanel. Biographical movie about a woman who changed fashion and dared to be different.
  62. La Môme. Besides a magnificent performance, which won Marion Cotillard an Oscar, this movie tells the tragic story of a great woman in French Chanson, Edith Piaf. It is another raw account where no demon is left uncovered. 
  63. The Changeling. I don't want to reveal too much, except that if you are a sensitive viewer, or pregnant, you shouldn't watch this movie. It does however tells a devastating story about one woman's fight in a society where woman have no means to fight whatsoever. Find a review here
  64. Memoirs of a Geisha. Again, being a Geisha might not be something to aspire to as a young woman, but it is a glimpse into a world that has long been hidden. Next to the obvious love story, a story of poverty, overcoming oneself, hate and women.
  65. Mamma Mia. Lots of female characters, not such a great storyline, but singing of ABBA songs!
  66. Rendition. Another Meryl Streep, this time in a classicly male role, and a lovely role for Reese Witherspoon.
  67. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.
  68. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
  69. The Girl Who Played With Fire.  This Stieg Larsson trilogy has some very strong female characters, who don't walk the beaten gender paths! (Obviously the books are better and more elaborate, but the original Swedish remake does have some good qualities).
    I tried to keep information about the movies low, on the one hand because this is already a very long list for a blog and on the other hand because these movies have to be viewed, not just read about. I hope that the few short explanations have helped and if you want any additional ionformation about a movie, feel free to question me in the comments below. 



    1. There are several that I have seen. Some are good movies, others don't have the same caliber. What's wrong with male characters? I loved The King's Speech, which is all about King George VI although it features how strong his wife is. Speaking of which, about the same time that was released a little movie called Made in Dagenham came out and that is a powerful women movie. Have you seen it? It's one that I would buy and show my teenagers. Chocolat is absolutely one of my favorites. I also really enjoyed The Stepford Wives.

      I also like and own Harold and Maude, Some Like It Hot, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Pleasantville, Paris at Midnight, and Hugo (probably not women movies but all have central themes and morals.) A few more women movie recommendations: Amelie, Julie & Julia, and The Help. I do appreciate that film makers are attempting to write more 3D women characters.

      1. I completely agree that not all the movies I listed here are profound... I just wanted to compose a list with a variety of movies, some deep and others more relaxing or funny, that passed the Bechdel test. A while ago I did the same for kid's movies.
        There is nothing wrong with male characters, however, what is wrong is that there should be a balance in the amount of male and female characters, and there is no such thing! If a movie has female characters, often they don't even have a name!!
        Even in literature this problem exists!

    2. 'Sex and the City' passed the Bechdel test? Seriously?? I haven't seen the movie, but the TV series just always struck me of such a sterling illustration of why the Bechdel test was important, because of the way that it did *not* pass the Bechdel test despite superficially presenting itself as about strong independent female characters. I'm really curious - what on earth did they have a conversation about in the movie that wasn't about men? Didn't think the characters had it in them.


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