5 Amazing Women in History I Learnt About Through Film

It’s Women’s History Month in America at the moment, but I wanted to join in on the celebration as I think it’s important to acknowledge those women who have contributed to shaping the world we live in now. But I must admit that when I try and list women who had a big impact on history… I get a little stuck.

I remember learning about Mary Curie in science at school, and of course the suffragettes, and then Agnes Varda at university when I studied documentary, but then my mind starts drawing a blank. How can I be struggling so much to think of important women from history? And I think my answer literally lies within the name; HIS tory.

For so long stories of our past and the great achievements that shaped our world have been dominated by men. But thanks to a series of filmmakers making Bio pics based on the true events that women went through or instigated, we can all learn about the amazing women from our past.

So this is 5 Amazing Women in history that I have learnt about through films.


#1 – Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I have to start with the most recent film I’ve seen, which is On the Basis of Sex, a wonderful film directed by Mimi Leder. The film is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s journey through law school into her first case tackling gender discrimination within the law. It amazed me that I never knew she existed until this film, yet the things she did for gender equality that were game changing and effected a large part of American society. The film itself is also very well done and was an entertaining and informative experience. Felicity Jones’ performance as Ruth was impressive and kept me engaged until the very end.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg wearing the dissent colllar | Dissentpins.com

#2 – Frida Kahlo

I don’t know anything about Frida Kahlo, apart from the portraits, but she is considered one of the most significant artists of the 20th century. In Julie Taymor’s film Frida her personal and professional life is explored through scenes that dissolve from art to reality. In an accident at a young age, painting became a way to deal with the trauma of her injuries and soon she was prolific having exhibitions around the world.

Frida Kahlo – picture originally taken in 1939 by Hungarian photographer and former lover Nickolas Muray.

#3 – Billie Jean King

Battle of the Sexes by Valerie Faris and Jonathon Dayton was one of my favourite movies from 2017. I don’t follow sport, but this film was an eye opener; shedding a light on the gender discrimination that exists within the sport industry. It is just as terrible as it is in any other industry and this film was an absolute triumph in telling its incredible story of perseverance. The 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs became the most watched televised sports event of all time, and her victory became not only a win for women, but also for the gay community.

Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs

#4 – Amelia Earhart

Amelia is a 2009 film Directed by Mira Nair. Most of the story is told in flashbacks before ending with Earhart’s mysterious disappearance. A figure that is mentioned throughout history, I knew a similar amount about Earhart as I did with Frida Kahlo. One of her biggest achievements was that she was the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. The film dives into the personal and political side of her endeavours before fading to black on the unknown that was the end to Earhart’s final attempt to fly around the world.

Amelia Earhart

#5 – Caroline (Catherine) Weldon

The film Woman Walks Ahead, directed by Susanna White, chronicles the life of portrait painter Catherine Weldon as she lives among the Sioux, a Native American tribe in Dakota. A known activist, Weldon joined NIDA, the National Indian Defense Association, and embarked on a quest to aid the Sioux in their struggle to fight the US government’s attempt expropriate vast portions of the Great Sioux Reservation. The film didn’t so so well with critics but the story and courage of Caroline Weldon especially in the late 1800’s is amicable.

Catherine Weldon and Sioux tribe members

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