Name: Iron jawed angles (2004)
Starring: Hillary Swank/Frances O’Connor/Angelica Huston
Directed by: Katja Von Garnier
Written by: Jennifer friends/Sally Robinson/and Raymond Singer
Tagline: U.S. women movement for having the right to vote
Company: Home Box Office (HBO)
Summary of the movie
“Iron jawed angles”, tells the remarkable and little-known story of a group of young and dynamic women led by Alice Paul (Hillary Swank) and her friend Lucy Burns (Frances O’Connor), who put their lives on the line to fight for American women’s right to vote.
The story begins in 1912 in Philadelphia when two young suffragist activists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns have a meeting with Carrie Chapman Catt (Angelica Huston) of NAWSA (National American Women Suffrage Association, formed in 1890, by Susan.B Antony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton). Carrie Chapman is a conservative woman who believes in state-by-state approach unlike these two young activists who want to gain women’s right to vote constitutionally. They also try to boycott the presidency of Woodrow Wilson because of not admitting women’s demand.
Having problem with the NAWSA members, they leave the association and form a National Women’s Party (NWP) which opposes any candidate against the proposed constitutional amendment. Being a member of this party, they expanded their activity having convincing speeches in the states and tried their best to absorb volunteers for making donations in NWP.
Wartime turns public opinion against the suffragettes who are arrested because of the “obstructing traffic” even though their picket line is on the sidewalk. Also after being arrested Paul and thrown into solitary confinement and her hunger strike, public opinion shifts in favor of suffragettes. Catt seizes the moment to press President Wilson into supporting the suffrage amendment and the women are released.
By 1920, 35 states have ratified the amendment, but one more state is needed. Tennessee becomes that state when make decision after receiving a telegram from his mother mentioning the right of women. Therefore on Aug. 26, 1920, the Susan B. Antony amendment becomes law and 20 million American women win the right to vote.
Critics and analysis
“Iron jawed angles” beautifully shows the women struggle for suffrage. It displays the first generation and first wave of feminists in the U.S. who were seeking their first steps of rights through constitution. In fact they knew that they could pave the way of their activities first of all, through the law, or written document.
This movie is a good example for not having representative stereotypes of women, since it displays all lifestyles of women, without highlighting any of them. We can see female activists who are thin and overweight, beautiful and ugly, rich and poor, homemakers and working women, all are shown in this movie. Also the director has tried to show that even being a mother cannot make a good reason to deny women’s right. In the scene, that Mrs. Leighton as a strong woman has been accused by his husband for her activities in NWP and not being a good mother, she responds by saying: “they are the only reason I’m here”. In fact, the movie doesn’t want to put women’s movements in the black and white as it has been mostly in the media representations. It portrays a real world of women in which from all lifestyles, women try to make changes by any means available for them.
Unlike many of the Hollywood movies which defines women as some submissive and homemakers who are sexually subjected, “Angles” portrays women as strong and independent. We see the fact in the scenes in which, Alice Paul tells Ben Weisman (the Washington post cartoonist) that she was “the smartest girl in the school”, or Inez Millholland (the lawyer), proudly rides a horse and leads the march in Washington. On the other side “Angles”, is not afraid to indicate women as ordinary females who are passionate, sensitive or even in love with men as their husbands. In one scene we see that Alice says to her friend that she is afraid of staying alone, but ultimately, choose her job and devotes herself to it again because of her love and avoiding her family from any damage.
The movie doesn’t portray Alice as a saint or a super heroin larger than life but shows the weakness of her and instead appreciates her supporter’s effort role in her victory.
“Iron jawed angles” stands up for those who denied personal choices by a majority that claims to love and protect them, and also the role of political actions in achieving rights and making outstanding changes in the world.
The “Angles” talks about the first steps of democracy and it is the power of “vote”. If today we can claim and we can talk about democracy means, it is because of women’s activity in first decade of20th century. This movie reminds us to appreciate them and fallow their way.
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