Helping girls grow into strong women must be built on truth, not lies. Tonight, many will watch the Academy Awards. I thought it appropriate to write about the movies and their effect on young women.
Public schools should be places that encourage all students to be good at sports, mathematics, engineering, at being the President of the United States, or anything they choose. Teachers rely on books and film to provide realistic instruction. It’s critical to reference history correctly.
Because films are such a part of our culture, the movie industry should not create false narratives about women, no matter how well-meaning. I don’t know if this movie is up for any Oscars, or if it is eligible for an award. But it highlights the point I want to make about film.
The Aeronauts is an exciting movie. It’s cringe-worthy if you have acrophobia, but it’s based on real historical events. The filming is spectacular, and I recommend it, but it is important to know a glaring untruth.
The movie is about James Glaisher, an early meteorologist who believed you could predict weather. His courageous copilot is Amelia Wren. Wren steals the show with her courageous heart-stopping feats that include climbing to the top of an icy hot air balloon to release pressure, while Glaisher lies unconscious and useless in the balloon’s basket.
I watched this film over the holidays and was amazed by Wren. Because the film was said to be based on true historical events, I looked Glaiser and Wren up after the movie was over. I wanted to learn more about them both, but especially Wren because of her interesting background and her undefeatable courage. I came up empty.
James Glaisher existed. Wren’s character existed too, but it was not Wren. Glaisher’s real life aeronautic partner, Henry Tracey Coxdale, a male, partnered with Glaisher on the journey. He did everything Wren’s character did, but he was a man. The female Wren did not exist, nor did the movie’s back story about her life.
When it comes to feminism, girls need to learn that their narrative is based on truth.
It’s also an insult to Coxdell who went to a lot of trouble to save Glaisher and their observations. If you see the movie, you’ll understand.
We do not need to change history to promote female courage and attainment. Strong females should stand on the reality of who they are. There are many women in history who are waiting to have their stories told.
Wren’s character was said to be loosely based on Sophie Blanchard, a French aeronaut in the 18th century who, while flamboyant, had nothing to do with meteorology.
There are many females in history who stand as examples for young girls in real movies.
I enjoyed reviewing a few biographical films about famous woman. There are many. I hope there will be many more in the future. Let me know those I left out that are your favorites and I will add them to the list. Or, tell about a historical female figure you’d like to see in a movie.
I’ve included ratings.
Harriet 2019 (PG-13)
A long overdue movie about the woman who, during the Civil War, led missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved people to safe houses. As the leader of the Underground Railroad, Tubman served as an armed scout and spy for the Union Army. Later, she was also an activist in the struggle for women’s suffrage.
Little Women 2019 (PG)
I always wonder how many remakes they can do of this story, but I still enjoy the films, like I did the book growing up. Little Women is loosely based on the life of Louisa May Alcott (Jo) who was an abolitionist and feminist in real life. Jo is strong-willed for her time. Greta Gerwig is also a great director and a good actress.
On the Basis of Sex (PG-13) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been everywhere on the screen recently. From the RBG documentary on her life to this movie, she is a remarkable individual and shining example for young girls.
Hidden Figures 2016 (PG)
This movie is about Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughn, African American women who overcame sexism and racism to be NASA’s “human computers.” Each woman has their own inspiring nonfictional story well-explained in the script. Their leadership and calculations led to advances in space exploration. “Hidden” is stunning in its meaning and its more than appropriate title. This movie is well-acted and based truthfully on facts. It’s one of the best movies I have seen in recent years. The wonderful Octavia Spencer won an Oscar for best supporting actress and the movie won for best film.
Julie and Julia 2009 (PG-13)
I’m not sure if Julia Childs liked this movie, but it does a decent job of describing her rise to fame as one of the greatest cooks of all time.
Amelia 2009 (PG)
This story of aviator explorer Amelia Earhart is not rated well on Rotten Tomatoes, although the late movie reviewer Roger Ebert is a lot more supportive of the film. There’s no shortage of films about Amelia Earhart. These films will always be mysterious because of the courageous explorer’s disappearance.
Erin Brockovich 2000 (R)
Brockovich did not have a formal education in law, but, in 1993, as a legal clerk, she built a case against California Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for contaminating drinking water with a toxic chemical. She became a consumer advocate and is still today a recognized environmental activist. Julia Roberts earned a well-deserved Oscar.
Coal Miner’s Daughter 1980 (PG)
Country music singer songwriter Loretta Lynn’s rise to fame is both poignant and exhilarating. Lynn’s humble beginnings and the way she juggled motherhood and her talent to overcome obstacles are surely inspiring. Sissy Spacek won a well-deserved Oscar.
Babe 1975 (TV)
Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias was an American athlete who excelled in basketball, baseball, and track and field. She won two gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics. Later she became a world champion golfer. She struggled to be accepted in a man’s world of sports.
The Miracle Worker 1962 (not rated)
I can’t believe I had to be reminded of this film by a friend. I remember being glued to the screen as a young girl watching Annie Sullivan trying to communicate with Helen. A few years ago I got to visit Helen Keller’s childhood home. Great performances by both Anne Bancroft who played Helen Keller’s teacher, and Patty Duke who was Helen. Anne Bancroft won an Oscar for best actress, and Patty Duke won for supporting actress.
Madame Curie 1943 (not rated)
This is about the struggles that faced Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist Marie Curie. Greer Garson and Walter Pigeon star. It’s an older film, but it decently shows Curie’s personal struggle in the scientific community.
Jeanne Ballou says
I would love to see “Code Name Lily” (historical fiction based on the true story of Micheline “Michou” Dumon-Ugeux’s courageous leadership in the Belgian Resistance in WWII), by Julien Ayotte. (ISBN 9781726706247)