Gender pay gap, hyper sexual objectification, dumbing down of female characters, lack of quality screenplays for women — these are just some of the issues the film industry is still dealing with. Lately, it seems things are moving forward as more actresses are candidly speaking up about the problems they are facing and bringing them to international spotlight.
Although #QuentinTarantino holds an image of the "enfant terrible" of American cinema — his movies are often labeled as too violent, brutal and unnecessarily bloody — he is also one of the most important modern directors and screenwriters. In opposition to all the violence and hundreds of gallons of blood, when you ask someone to name five iconic characters from Tarantino's films, more than half would most certainly be female. Intelligent, cool, independent, strong, sometimes very dangerous, sometimes caring and sensual — we admired them all. Who would have thought after Reservoir Dogs came out that Tarantino would become a sort of a feminist hero?
To honor Hollywood's favorite "basterd" on his 54th birthday, I am bringing you some of his most remembered heroines that continue to inspire.
5. Jackie Brown
"Aw, the milk went bad while I was in jail."
This is his third film, but the first in which Tarantino decided to place a woman in the lead, and oh, what a wonderful decision he made. During the '90s, period actress Pam Grier was used to appearing in smaller roles, but came back in style with a captivating performance in crime thriller #JackieBrown, where she managed to outshine acting legends like Robert DeNiro and Samuel L. Jackson.
Jackie is a middle-aged flight attendant who is actually working for gun dealer Ordell Robbie by smuggling money across the border. After she gets caught, Jackie agrees to cooperate with the police in order to catch Ordell and avoid jail time. At the same time, she realizes her crazy boss wants to kill her, so that's when she comes up with a not-so-simple plan.
A smart, daring and charming woman who doesn't want to depend on anyone, Jackie Brown will always deserve an important place on a groundbreaking female roles lists.
4. Shosanna Dreyfus
"My name is Shosanna Dreyfus and THIS is the face... of Jewish vengeance!"
Tarantino made #IngloriousBasterds so that he could play with the darkest part of the 20th century and deliver his version of WWII events in his distinctive, attractive way. The key character is Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), a young Jewish woman who happens to be the only surviving member of her family that was murdered by Nazis.
Years after the soldiers found them in their hiding place and slaughtered them in a bloodbath, Dreyfus meets a German war hero and formulates a revenge plot to kill the Nazi top commanders like Hitler and Goebbels. Her will power and fearlessness is astounding, along with her ability to keep focus on the way of reaching her final objective.
3. Mia Wallace
"Three tomatoes are walking down the street — a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him... and says, Catch up."
This small tribute can't be completed without HER, an ultimate style icon and every girl's dream Halloween costume choice. #UmaThurman and Tarantino surely had a special chemistry between them on the set, and we can all be grateful for that. She is not a main protagonist, but is the most recognizable one; her face is the visual and spiritual representation of #PulpFiction. Mia is a mobster Marsellus Wallace's wife who wanted to be an actress, is totally in love with Amsterdam, smokes a lot and also likes to snort cocaine. Her style is simple, but seductive; she is smart, has a great sense of humor and she's definitely got a way with words. And, as you already know, she can dance like no other.
2. Zoë Bell
"You guys look like shit. Who died?"
#DeathProof, maybe not Tarantino's most acclaimed work, it's certainly the most "girl power" statement movie. Also, Zoë is the only one starring under her real name because she is actually playing herself — an energetic, talented stunt double who made me want to get out more and get involved sports for a change. Tarantino was amazed by the skills she presented while doubling for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, and how could he not be — remember those crazy adrenaline-filled Death Proof scenes where she's strapped on the hood of a speeding car? Zoë also appeared in other Tarantino's works, including: Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, showing a range of talent, breaking stereotypes and just staying true to her cool, bold presence.
1. The Bride
"Those of you lucky enough to have your lives, take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now."
Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), code name Black Mamba, is one of the greatest action movie characters of all time, roles that are usually reserved for male actors only. She is a former member of an elite team of extremely well trained assassins who finally wakes after four years spent in a coma as a result of being shot in the head by her former boss and lover, Bill. Kiddo creates a list of former colleagues who have betrayed her and begins her ruthless mission of killing every one of them, showing impressive fighting skills along the way.
Her dynamic, blood-soaked quest for vengeance is divided into two volumes, culminating in an epic ending. That kind of firm determination in a character is rarely seen and has to be appreciated. Kiddo is passionate, dangerous and scary, but makes you sympathize with her after all the trauma she's been through. Finally, the women who are not afraid to attack first in this movie establish a different kind of a female presence on the big screen, showing everyone that women can kick ass as well.
Which female character is your favorite? Do you know some other directors who are contributing in empowering women by creating strong roles for female actresses? Share your thoughts in the comments!