Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mona Lisa Smile – Leah Christian

The movie, Mona Lisa Smile, was released in December of 2003. The movie is based around the life of Katherine Ann Watson, played by Julia Roberts. The movie takes place in 1953 at Wellesley College which is an all girl’s school. A graduate of Berkeley, Watson longed all of her life to teach at Wellesley. So, when a position opened for an Art History class, she perused it until she was successful. Watson was not at all encouraged to teach an Art History class; in fact she was steered away from it. None of the faculty at Wellesley was happy or encouraging of Wellesley, including her prospective ‘love’ in the movie, Bill Dunbar played by Dominic West.

During the 1950’s every young girl dreams of getting married, having children, and being a house-wife. Watson dreams to change all of that. Being a single middle-aged woman, she tries to put a spark in her students’ eyes. She believes that they can be and do to accomplish their biggest dreams. Watson’s most outstanding, and outspoken women are played by Kirsten Dunst (Betty Warren), Julia Stiles (Joan Brandwyn), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Giselle Levy), and Ginnifer Goodwin (Connie Baker). Betty believes that there is no other way to go about life except to be a married woman and house-wife. Half way through the semester, Betty gets married. Joan is a pre-law student but plans on getting married after she graduates. Watson helps her apply to law school, which Joan had never even considered. Giselle is a free-spirit and constantly looks for ‘fun’.

During the entire duration of the movie woman are displayed as people who are only capable to do one thing: get married. This movie is entirely based on the fight and feminism movement. Although this movie displays women to only be married and to be house-wives, during this time, that is all they were allowed. It is hard to believe that about 60 years ago, women could not even apply themselves in the work place around the nation. To watch this film is a wake up call: we, as women, have come so far. Without women, like the one played by Julia Roberts, America would not be the way it is today. Women would still be expected to stay at home and cook and clean and take care of the children.

I would defiantly consider this film a feminist film. From the very second the movie started, it portrayed the hard work and dedication that every woman has within herself. This movie promotes all of the feminist movements that have occurred in the past and the ones that will occur, hopefully, in the future. From the very first sentences spoken from Watson, there was a sense of hard work and dedication that every women of the feminist movement has always displayed.

Overall, I love this movie. Every time I watch it I am reminded of how much times have changed. Although I can not exactly relate with the situations that these women were put through, I know that the women not long before me, such as my grandmother and great-grandmother, struggled through tough times like these. Although this movie is slightly depressing, it is a very good reminder of what reality was. I would recommend this movie to everyone to see. There are a lot of very good lessons and mistakes to learn of.

Written by; Leah Christian

To learn more about Mona Lisa Smile, you can access these sites.

1 comment:

Erin Graham said...

Yes times have certainly changed, but I believe that some of the maternal instincts to desire a family over a career are still present. I also love this movie. I wrote a blog regarding how this movie enforces advertisements and their portrayal of women.
I invite you to visit my blog as well.