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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Exploring women in film

Kate Winslet as Rose Bukater
Kate Winslet as Rose Bukater

1939: Scarlett O’Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. One thing is certain about this iconic role, when Scarlett sets her mind to something, she is darn sure going to get it. Well, at least she tries. Though she never gets Ashley, she does have a good, albeit bumpy, run with Rhett Butler. But her determined outcry “I’ll never be hungry again!” shows her spoiled nature can be subsided when the chips are down.

1940, 1995 & 2005: Elizabeth Bennet, played by Greer Garson, Jennifer Ehle and Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Bennet is one of the strongest protagonists in literature and film today. In a society where women marry for money instead of love, Bennet stands out with her wit, sophistication and ideal for true romance. Though she might come off a little proud, especially to her equally proud match Mr. Darcy, she still inspires women.

1978, 1980, 1987 & 2006: 
Lois Lane, played by Margot Kidder and Kate Bosworth in Superman I-IV and Superman Returns. Lois Lane is the only person in Metropolis who doesn’t need Superman. But he sure makes her job as a reporter for the Daily Planet a lot more lucrative and her life more exciting. Lane does get herself into trouble because of her stubborn attitude and independent nature but uses her clever know-how to get herself out of sticky situations. When the man in tights comes to save her, she is more worried about the angle of her next news story than her own well-being.

1979: Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in Alien. Weaver breaks gender roles as Ellen Ripley, becoming the first female action hero. The gun-toting officer of the ship Nostromo knows her fellow crewmate Kane shouldn’t have been allowed back on the ship after being infected and becomes the last woman standing against the alien. Still kicking butt in three sequels, Ripley made the way for woman action heroes everywhere. 

Sally Field as Norma Rae
Sally Field as Norma Rae

1979: Norma Rae, played by Sally Field in Norma Rae. Norma Rae takes on the textile factory she works at because of its intolerable working conditions. When she stands on the table holding a sign with “Union” on it with such determination, she goes against all odds and tries to unionize her fellow workers.

1982: Sophie Zawistowski, played by Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice. To put it simply, Sophie has been through a lot. Her father was in favor of the Gestapo during World War II, but she opposed her father’s beliefs. Later, her husband is killed, and she is arrested and thrown into Auschwitz with her two children. Then she has to make a heart-wrenching choice: which of her children will die. But Sophie endures the guilt of her choice and the horrors of the Holocaust.

1985: Celie, played by Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple. Celie has suffered a life of abuse from her stepfather and later from her husband “mister.” She spends most her life being passive and trying to be invisible, but a friendship with Shug Avery changes her attitude toward her abuse. Celie becomes a confident young woman and takes control of her life.

Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling
Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling

1991: Clarice Starling, played by Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. FBI agent Clarice Starling has been toe to toe with one of the most vicious killers, Hannibal Lector, but her perseverance to solve the Buffalo Bill murders makes her able to endure Lector. He plays mind games with Starling, interrogating her about her worst childhood memories, giving her red-herring clues. She also has to deal with sexism in the Bureau. But her intelligence helps her in the end as she discovers who Buffalo Bill is and saves the abducted girl.

1991: Belle, voiced by Paige O’Hara in Beauty and the Beast. The quiet bookworm Belle seems an unlikely hero to tame the vicious Beast. Though she is only two-dimensional, she is a true female hero, using feminine qualities, such as patience and compassion, to save the Beast and the rest of the castle’s inhabitants from the curse.

1996: Marge Gunderson, played by Frances McDormand in Fargo. Seven months pregnant, Gunderson follows the clues all over town to find out who killed a state trooper and two others. Not even morning sickness stops her as she uncovers a botched kidnapping scheme and gives justice to the victims.

Kate Winslet as Rose Bukater
Kate Winslet as Rose Bukater

1997: Rose Bukater, played by Kate Winslet in Titanic. Rose Bukater learns, from Jack, social class isn’t as important as love. But Rose’s defining moment of strength comes when she clings to a door floating in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Determined not to share the same morbid fate as the love of her life, Jack, she finds a whistle and blows it until a lifeboat comes and saves her.

2000, 2003, 2006: 
Jean Grey, played by Famke Janssen in X-Men Trilogy. In the superhero world, Jean Grey is one of the most powerful. Her mutant ability of telekinesis is one fans have wanted for years. Though her power is what ultimately leads her to her demise, she has a certain knack for teaching and helping the other X-men. She is even willing to give her life for the good of the team.

2003 & 2004: The Bride (Beatrix Kiddo), played by Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. The Bride experiences the ultimate wedding nightmare. After a four-year coma, caused by a shot to the head from her old boss Bill, the assassin crawls her way back to health. Then she initiates a bloody path of a revenge, taking down her fellow assassins and ultimately facing a final showdown with her former boss. She prevails against all odds and survives the wrath of Bill. Though Ellen Ripley might have been the first action hero, the Bride brings a certain gruesome charm to the archetype.

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