Nowadays there's plenty of strong female leads in film, books and TV series. But it hasn't always been this way, women have fought the long fight for 3-dimensional characters, especially on the big screen. The powerhouse that is Reese Witherspoon set up Hello Sunshine, "a media company that puts women at the center of every story we create, celebrate and discover" bringing to the screen strong-complicated female characters in Little Fires Everywhere and The Morning Show.
Today's post is a throwback to those kickass women who were defying misogyny before their time.
A sci-fi film from 1986, set in the future where a crew of marines set down on a planet being terraformed for human life to rescue settlers gone missing. The trained marines fall one by one as the only person with no army training “Ripley” played by the amazing Sigourney Weaver manages to hold her own, rescue a crew member, a small child and escape hundreds of terrifying aliens from eating her. Need we say more…
2. Thelma & Louise
A road trip film from 1991 that features two best friends setting out on an adventure, but end up being hunted by the police. At the time this film was deemed “controversial” due to its negative portrayal of men. But it became a critical and commercial success and is now considered a classic. It has become a landmark feminist film and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry due to its significance.
3. Erin Brockovich
This is a dramatisation of a true story based on Erin whom becomes a legal assistant after being unemployed. Played by Julia Roberts, she ends up fighting against an energy company regarding pollution of the cities water supply and the energy company end up paying a settlement amount of $333 million (this part isn’t a dramatisation, it really did happen - Source)
4. The Descent
A horror film that follows six women who go caving, end up getting lost and finding a lot more than just claustrophobia. Made in 2005 the film received critical acclaim. You might not have realised at the time but there is only one man that features in the entire film! It was the first horror film with an all female cast and was a breakthrough at the time. Show's that without a bloke, women can meet their own sticky end or escape intact (depending if you watch the UK or US version!)
The 1998 animated film that is based on the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan who saves her father by secretly replacing him and becoming one of China's greatest heroines. Originally a fictional folk heroine which firstly originated as a song called “the ballad of Mulan”. Ok, it is a 90's Disney film so she ends up marrying the prince but not before she faces up to many armies and defeats them all whilst leading thousands of men to victory.
6. Adventures in Babysitting
A teen comedy from 1987, whereby a babysitter gets way more than she bargained for when a series of events leaves them stranded in the city, and she’s not afraid to do anything to look after the children.
7. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Not quite a film, but this series was unlike any other TV series in the 90s. A fierce, take no crap female lead that was destined to kick ass. Based on the movie from 1992, it gained many awards and led to other spin-off series and holds its own with the more “woke” series of today.
A biographical film based on the life of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, made in 2002. It was Salma Hayek's dream to bring this film to life but she faced a fierce Harvey Weinstien throughout production with regular demands to make it "sexier" as she shares in a powerful OpEd in the New York Times. Frida’s life was remarkable and she endured much pain after her accident but was able to use her artwork as an outlet, and never gave-up.
9. Whale Rider
A 2002 film based on the novel of the same name. A young Maori girl fights to fulfil her destiny, but is refused. Girls aren’t allowed to be indigenous chiefs but that doesn’t stop defiant 11 year old Paikea. With much courage she soon shows the world who’s boss. Think Moana 14 years before Moana!
10. Set It Off
A 1996 movie about four black women who rob banks. At first people were quick to write it off as just another thriller, but there was much more going on beneath the surface. It observes the lives that these women must struggle through and the reasons why they resulted to thievery, and was a refreshing change from the norm at the time.
It just goes to show that we're as formidable as the male hero in any genre! 💪💪🏾