Courageous, loyal, determined, and kind: Cerys Gadsden shares some films with the best female protagonists.
The aftermath of watching a film is a strange experience, as though it were a peculiarly fulfilling hangover. One of the most profound aftermaths of a film is resonating with the characters that look and act cool, or badass, or beautiful. I sometimes find myself speaking like Cher Horowitz or dancing alone in my flat like Mia Wallace would.
As a film student, I can admit that the film industry, unfortunately, frames and applauds more male characters than female. But fear not! I have a short but essential list of female characters that will inspire you and hopefully encourage you to watch more characters like them on the silver screen. Of course, basing your entire life goals and mannerisms on film characters is not recommended, but taking some inspiration is encouraged! (And who doesn’t like dressing like a ‘Mean Girl’ or forming a Freaky Friday-inspired band?)
1. Amélie Poulain [Amélie, 2001]
A timid, but kind French woman, Amélie, has a lonely and quite tragic childhood. However, as she grows up and moves to Montmartre, she has an impulse to help the lost souls around her. A beautiful energy and spirit, she begins her journey by anonymously delivering a time-capsule to its rightful owner, and from then on, she continues to practice kind deeds. When she seeks romance yet fudges when the opportunity comes, she is shown as an honest example of a woman who lacks confidence yet has the persistence to embrace fear with assistance from others she has helped in the past. Her kindness is contagious, a perfect role-model for the shy, the adventurous and the cheerful women out there who want to make a difference.
Be more like Amélie: Do a kind deed for a friend or relative. Or stretch yourself by helping a stranger.
2. Queen [Queen & Slim, 2019]
Less known on this list, but still essential is Queen. Her story begins on an unsuccessful date with Slim, which is interrupted by a racist police attack on their drive home. Shot in the leg and witnessing the death of the cop, Queen perseveres by facilitating her and Slim’s new lives as fugitives. Their journey is driven by Queen’s bravery as she ultimately plans their getaway, sacrificing her successful lawyer career in order to save herself. The pressure gets to her at times, yet throughout her journey with Slim, her firm and sometimes aggressive nature softens whilst she stays strong enough to run from the law. Queen is an iconic character that presents genuine fight, wisdom and grace for female viewers.
Be more like Queen: Disagree with someone? Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion for a change.
3. Trinity [The Matrix, 1999]
Mysterious, courageous and intelligent, Trinity rebels against The Matrix universe and fights for what is right. She is a brave warrior who works well in a team, and ultimately finds Neo, who is needed to take down The Matrix. Without saying much and fighting the streets of this ‘fake world’, Trinity is a saviour, as she combats her obstacles by using her heart and her strength. But let’s not forget her unbelievable fighting and action scenes! She shoots without effort and is a master in karate and parkour (so cool!). Although in this film Neo is seen as ‘The One’, Trinity is still extremely significant: it was she who started Neo’s prophetic journey and believed he could save humanity.
Be more like Trinity: Try beginning to remove a ‘Matrix’ out of your life, whether it be a form of social media or a person who brings you down.
4. Chihiro [Spirited Away, 2001]
The most sincere and innocent of all these characters, Chihiro is the embodiment of loyalty and adventure. In the film, she is transported to a fantasy world where her parents shockingly transform into pigs. In order to leave, she must work at a mysterious and magical bathhouse. During her wacky experience, she never crumbles under the pressure and manages to find beauty in the madness: caring for lost souls like No-Face, building friendships, exploring and finding wonder in all the places she ventures to. Her experience effectively makes Chihiro grow, as she fears no evil, stays loyal to her parents and loves all.
Be more like Chihiro: If you find yourself stuck in a stressful and confusing situation, try to find the beauty in it and use that to help you grow.
5. Lady Bird [Lady Bird, 2017]
Lady Bird has a real jump-out-of-the-car persona (if you know you know) and is the ultimate on-screen fiery teen. An honest and genuine character, Lady Bird (aka Christine) shines through rocky and relatable situations such as money problems, friction with her mother, falling for the wrong guys and aiming to get to her dream university. She is the epitome of confidence, fire and determination: living life to the fullest is definitely her motto. Since the success of this film, Lady Bird has become a female icon and radiates relatability for many young women who seek to break boundaries and obstacles.
Be more like Lady Bird: Considering dying your hair, joining a society, finding a new job, rocking a new outfit? Do it! Lady Bird would.
*Applause for these amazing women and the actors/writers/directors who brought them to life*
Do you agree? Who inspires you? Widen your horizon around female-made or female-based cinema for more characters like these!