Still, it was progress of sorts — or maybe progressive politics. The knee-jerk liberal in me would like to attribute that ’90s boomlet to eight years of a Democratic administration when women’s roles were regarded as less ironclad. And maybe see the present trend as part of the spirit that brought on the election of the first African-American president, not to mention the first directorial Oscar given to a woman — and that for helming a war movie.
Hardly. A quick look at some of the films suggests that Girl Power transcends ideology. As with John Milius’s Red Dawn (1984), in which teenage girls and boys take up arms against Russian invaders; it’s been remade and will be released in November. Or Henry Hathaway’s True Grit (1969), in which a hard-boiled hoyden seeks frontier justice with the help of a down-and-out lawman played by right-wing icon John Wayne; the Coen Brothers are remaking it for Christmas release.
More unsettling is Austrian director Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, in which a young girl manipulates her peers into wreaking havoc on a pre–World War I German village — a dress rehearsal for the Third Reich. Sometimes it’s simply the nature of power — whether for girls or boys — to corrupt.
Peter Keough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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