The Highlighted Social Issues in the Acclaimed British Cinema
Contemporary British Cinema has always been a source of entertainment, but it has done more than just entertain society. It has reflected changes in society, and the movement of more british protagonist and heroines. From gaining the right to vote, fighting for equal rights at work and their struggles and achievements, Women’s actions have been mirrored on screen which has resulted in some of the best loved characters in Contemporary British Cinema.
Set in Glasgow, Wild Rose (2018) highlights the strong female protagonist in Contemporary British Cinema. Breaking stereotypes, the character Rose is not an uneducated prostitute or a companion of the male lead. Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) is a strong female character. She is in-your-face, impulsive, brash and hopelessly devoted to country music. Convinced she was born in a place wrong for her, she wishes to leave Glasgow and to finally pursue her calling in Nashville. However, she has two kids; 8-year-old Wynnona and 5-year-old Lyle, who lives with Rose-Lynn’s mother, Marion (Julie Walters). In many ways, Wild Rose (2018) is a classic story of a woman balancing her dream career and ambitions with her family ties. What makes this film equally refreshing, is seeing a woman’s emotional arc progress completely independent of any male characters or love interests (Cohen, 2019). The love story within this film lies between the mothers and daughters. Which breaks the stereotype of females having their lives evolved around men in film. The mother-daughter dynamic in this film shows that Rose-Lynn both revere and resents them. With having both kids before 18, she’s a little more than a child herself, and continuously grappling with how her already precarious identity as a mother to her children fits with her aspirations. In one key scene, she lies about not having children to her employer-turned-friend Susannah. Although it is not said without guilt, you can see the relief in Rose-Lynn’s face at being perceived as just another new star rather than a young mother with other responsibilities. However, the delicate, shy smile Rose-Lynn gets while going through her kids’ assignments for school as they sleep, understanding their hopes and dreams are a complete contrast to when she lies to Susannah about them.
This shows that she still loves and has her motherly care for them, the unconditional love a Mother has for her child. On the other hand, the relationship between Marion and Rose’s relationship is strained over the refusal to give up on Rose’s dream, even if it could cost her everything good in her life, shows a mother-daughter relationship throughout the ages. It shows a strong female dynamic between mother and daughter, and not just a strong woman and male power-play. In contrast to the stereotype, with female leads having to choose their career over their male love interest such as A Star Is Born (2018), Wild Rose (2018) shows the battle between a mother and her children and further shows that a strong woman has to make these decisions, and that it is not dictated by a male interest or relationship.
Another film that showed strong female representation, as well as race, is the BAFTA nominated film Bend It Like Beckham (2002). This iconic “girl power” movie, directed by the famous feminist director, Gurinder Chadha, shows Jess, a British India girl, go against her family’s perception where girls should focus on their studies and become married. Jules, a tomboy who is on the football team with Jess, objects her mother’s disagreement towards her hobby and interest. This movie highlights how both girls struggle between their interests and hobbies for their families culture and perception. Part of the main purpose of this movie is also bringing two females from different cultural backgrounds together and embrace their own diversity. Although the film’s title is a reference to a star football played (David Beckham) and his ability to score goals, it means much more than that. Bend It Like Beckham (2002) is a metaphor, “especially for us girls” Chadha said in an interview in 2003 (Cipriani, 2018). ‘We can see our goal but instead of going straight there, we too have to twist and bend the rules sometimes to get what we want.” From Jess, the main character, there is a lot of self-confidence to persist through adversity, especially when it comes to outdated, sexist expectations of women (ibid).
From 2001-2011, the Harry Potter Franchise took the British Cinema and Worldwide cinema by storm. One of the main characters, and highly admired, was Hermoine Granger. Throughout the years, Hermoine (Emma Watson) grew up to become a female icon. Over the decade, the young British witch from J.K Rowling’s novels has grown “from a literary smart girl into a powerful feminist symbol” (Gray, 2017). What makes Hermione special is that she plays a character that defies certain tropes. She plays against the role that women should play in the lives of boys. Hermione, although in a trio with two boys, always felt part of that instead of being a sidekick or the girl the two boys fight over for her attention. She is a central character in this story. Instead of centering Hermione’s beauty or male-approved desirability, JK Rowling always centered around her brains, compassion and morality (ibid). There are multiple times throughout this film where Hermione is the hero and Harry and Ron are the damsels. Her contributions and equal standing with the two male leads provides the audience with the view that not all females are “damsels in distress”. The appeal towards Hermione was always rooted in her way to be a stand-in for young smart, hard-working girls. It’s a new perspective for audiences when a smart girl gets to save the world, standing beside her male friends, and is recognised for her accomplishments with the boys. Hermoine, and Emma Stone herself, demonstrates that although she is a female she is just as capable as men.
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