As in every artistic field, even cinema had struggles to give space to the women (just let’s think that at the beginning of its history, cinema only allowed male actors). This “cinematographic machismo”, however, had a short life, how could it have been possible to make films without women? In addition to actresses and divas that we all know – from Audrey Hepburn to Sophia Loren to be clear – the cinematographic media has in many cases been guided by filmmakers who have never had anything to envy their male colleagues. This month we offer six films about actresses and directors who have changed the way we see and make movies.
Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola, 2003
Oscar winner in 2004 for best screenplay, Sofia Coppola (daughter of Italian American director Francis Ford Coppola) is capable to impress in this film with all the feeling and sensitivity that only a woman could give. The real power of the American filmmaker is to place two western characters in a context completely different to their lifestyle, like the japanese. Seems like it almost underline this cultural loneliness that the two protagonists live and undoubtedly the will to indicate their isolation from the world around them and how this eventually unites them. The New York director follows the two characters with pacified rhythms, spreading the film with tiny hints, paid looks and sincere smiles, with the aim of reaching the public’s heart.
The Color Purple, Steven Spielberg, 1985
Away from Spielberg’s usual stereotypes, in this film you can see an outstanding interpretation of Whoopi Goldberg ad main character. The African-American actress does an amazing job for the Yankee director fueling the drama thanks to acting on the edge of reality (Stanislavsky would be proud of it). Being black and especially black women at the beginning of the twentieth century in the United States was certainly not a very easy condition, Goldberg, thanks to the choral help of all the afro-performers, manages to get to the viewer by charging all her shoulders injustices that African-American women have had to endure during that period.
The Passion of Joan of Arc, Theodor Dreyer, 1928
Movies like this have marked cinema throughout its history. The swedish director Theodor Dreyer experiments where no one has ever done creating an avant-garde film. The manifest film of the ultimate mute cinema, does justice to the deeds of a great woman like Joan of Arc unjustly put to the stake. The protagonist Renée Falconetti has been made famous by this film, the close-ups with a white background seize in a masterly way the expressiveness of the French actress as if to want us to revive the entire epic of the national heroine of France. Theodor Dreyer and this film will be taken as an example and as a cult by another great Scandinavian director like Lars von Trier. A film about a great woman played by a great silent actress.
Mamma Roma, Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1962
Talking about women usually is also related to motherhood, Anna Magnani in this film directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini makes perfectly the idea of what it means to be a woman in the Roman suburbs, but especially a single mother struggling with a child problematic enough. The black and white creates an almost sacred aura around the entire film. Anna Magnani looking gorgeous wearing clothes that most represent her, almost seems to eat the camera by creating an effect between the melancholy and the anger of those who are on the edge and want to survive. We cannot and we should not forget that the Roman actress was one of the greatest interpreters that Italian cinema and theater have ever had, capable of transforming into whatever the director in question wanted. An ability to metamorphose herself that earned her an Oscar as best actress in the film “La rosa tatuata” of 1955 by Daniel Mann.
Agorà, Alejandro Amenábar, 2009
The extraordinary Rachel Weisz (Hypatia) transports us to the end of the 4th century, where tensions between christians and pagans are accentuated in Alexandria in Egypt. The social tension between the two groups rises from the squares to the classrooms of the library, Hypatia, tries to save his students from the imminent clash, also teaching the secular nature of science. It refers to the intuitions that depict Hypatia – mathematics, astronomer and greek philosopher – as an antitank of Galileo, among other things, never highlighting doubts or contradictions. A film about a woman capable of reversing the thought of every man, Weisz manages to create around the protagonist a more platonic and aesthetic appeal.
Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl, 1935
A nazi propaganda film, Leni Riefenstahl was perhaps the first great european-style woman director. In his film/propaganda Triumph des Willens (the triumph of the will) contains pieces from various speeches from the various political leaders of the nazi party, mainly passages by Adolf Hitler, mixed with speeches from other party members. Hitler commissioned the film by himself and his name appears in the credits. The epic job that the German director puts on the scene is almost unprecedented, the film is very reminiscent of the early kolossal of the silent cinema as Cabiria by Giovanni Pastrone, the only difference is that here it is the reality. This film highlights the strength, the power, the will of an entire people ready to conquer the old continent, and Rienfestahl promotes this glorious ascent of which we all know the story.