Sunday, October 25, 2009

women dare not enter

I often disagree with the New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis. I think she's a snob when it comes to commercial movies. But she's right on target with her review of Amelia. Why on earth did they tag this biopic to a romantic story line? I guess because Hollywood thinks women will only go see a romance. Hey, I see bromances all the time. I must be a teenage boy because I'm there for any superhero movie, and loved Inglourious Basterds. So what do I get when they make a movie about one of my heroines? Treacle. Whatever happened to the idea of making a movie like Silkwood, or god forgive me even Norma Rae. According to Dargis "The film “Amelia” subscribes to the Great Woman Theory of history, which . . . largely involves the great woman and the men in her life." She thinks Amelia "presented too confusing a vision of modern womanhood for filmmakers chasing what Hollywood types see as a fickle female audience."

Of course Amelia Earhart has confounded biographers, screenwriters and novelists for years. The only work of fiction to really break out was I Was Amelia Earhart. And it depended on a fictitious romance; Earhart and Noonan as cast away lovers. I guess the filmmakers might have found themselves thinking of this.

The difficulty lies in the disconnect between her public and private personae. In 1937 Amelia claimed she was looking forward to retirement. "I think I have just one more long flight in my system, after that? My lovely home in North Hollywood-California sunshine-books-friends-leisurely travel-many things!" This was the woman she presented for public view; someone who was ready to give up everything she'd achieved for the pleasures of hearth and home. Would Amelia Earhart have retired? Nothing in her life story points to that. So why did she feel compelled to pretend? Because it fit with the public view, the idea that a woman couldn't just be intrepid, she also had to be demure, charming, discreet, and traditional. Even though she dressed in pants, set flying records, lived with her husband before he divorced, and after they married took a lover, she was still Lady Lindy. The emphasis on Lady. Quite impressive that she pulled it off.

So who was the real Amelia?

1 comment:

  1. Odd, isn't it, the apparent problems with the movie given that the director is a woman...guess that guarantees nothing.