Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Accused - Brittany Westerbeck

The Accused, released in 1988, is a film starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis. Foster plays a lower-class working woman named Sarah who is gang-raped in a local bar by three men. Sarah decides to press charges, and her lawyer is Kathryn Murphy played by McGillis. Sarah wants to charge the men with rape, but her promiscuous label causes Kathryn to go for a lesser charge in which the men plead guilty. In turn, Sarah’s character is hurt, and eventually after a confrontation, Kathryn decides to make up for her mistake by charging other men at the scene for inducing and encouraging the rape.

When Sarah is giving her testimony, the defense attorneys challenge that she could not for sure see the victim’s faces (because her eyes were covered) and could not actively tell them no (because he mouth was covered). They also use the fact that she had had some alcohol prior to the rape to defend their case. The peak of the movie happens when a key witness (battling putting his best friend in jail) decides to support Sarah and explains exactly what happened the night in the bar. The jury accuses the men of supporting the rape, the men who were already in jail have their sentence greatened, and Sarah’s character is restored.

This movie very clearly deals with the issue of female rape and the question of whether the victim’s word can be held accountable. Women are portrayed as lower than men. Sarah is constantly taunted by the men from the bar before they are on trial, and Kathryn, despite her lawyer status, is laughed at for taking the case of Sarah’s. I believe the film gives the harsh reality of the glass ceiling for women. Because the case was won, the movie gives a positive and empowering representation of females.

I would argue this film as a “feminist” film because it clearly depicts real-life events that occur everyday. It shows that even though the woman is raped, her word often does not hold up in court. Then, not only does she suffer mental and emotional trauma from the rape, her character becomes demolished and she is seen as a joke by society. The movie brings to light a very controversial issue that most people are afraid to talk about.

I though this movie is one that everyone should be required to watch. I could not help but cry at the rape scene in the movie. I thought it was awful that men would react like they did in the movie and even more horrified that these sorts of things happen in real life! It literally disgusted me, and I almost had to turn the movie off. I think it shows that even though it might be a “macho” thing to have sex with women, the right move is to stop the action and defend the person in trouble. It does not really relate to me personally except that I have always supported rape victims and harsher punishment for criminals that commit it.

"The Accused." Wikipedia. 11 November 2007

Internet Movie Database. (2007). The Accused. Retrieved 11 November 2007, from Website:

Kilduff, John, Edward. (2007). The 80s Movie Rewind. Retrieved 11 November 2007, from Fast Rewind Rewinds Website: .

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