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'Heroes in our Midst' theme for MoviesMatter


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It's interesting that you should ask about accidental female heroes today. On the way home from Los Angeles tonight, I heard the news that Uli Dickerson had passed away in Tuscon, AZ. Dickerson was the flight attendant on the hi-jacked TWA flight 847 back in 1985, and was widely held to be the one person who was responsible for saving many of the passengers lives. Dickerson was able to communicate in German with one of the Lebanese gunmen, and was said to have put herself between the gunmen and several passengers whose lives were threatened when the hi-jackers demands were failed to be met. She also paid Algerian grounds crewmen to refuel the plane with her Shell card, when they refused to refuel without upfront payment. Her story was filmed in a 1988 TV movie, The Taking of Flight 847: The Uli Derickson Story, which is available on VHS.

Her full obituary is here.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Ripley?

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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Once again, not in the same league as movies you listed but a better-than-average movie would be the made-for-TV The Rosa Parks Story

That's just how eye roll.

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I was just going over the list for the MoviesMatter April theme of 'Accidental Heroes' when I realized the list only featured men as the heroes!  eek.gif

The Insider, Becket, Hotel Rwanda, Schindler's List, and Romero -- all great movies, but a bit slanted toward the men. What movies portray 'accidental heroes' who are women? Mrs. Miniver comes to mind, but what else in the same class of quality as the films above?

Mrs. Miniver was the first title that leaped to my mind as well -- and I contest the implication that the film isn't in the same league as the above titles. Mrs. Miniver is a very well-observed, well-crafted film. It has a remarkable depth and insight of characterization, and the turns of the plot and shifts from mundane to dangerous are strikingly evocative of real life. Only in the very last scene does the film finally define itself as a pro-war propaganda piece; a different final scene might have made it a stronger film, but by that point I think Mrs. Miniver has earned the right to make any statement it wants.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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Joan of Arc was "accidental"?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Unless there are other suggestions?

I'm not necessarily saying these are great movies, but they do have female protagonists who might be called "accidental heroes" in that they find themselves taking up causes that they feel they can't turn away, though they believe others may be better qualified. None of them are saints, either:

Norma Rae (1979)

Silkwood (1983)

Erin Brockovich (2000)

FWIW.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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I'm not necessarily saying these are great movies, but they do have female protagonists who might be called "accidental heroes" in that they find themselves taking up causes that they feel they can't turn away, though they believe others may be better qualified. None of them are saints, either:

Norma Rae (1979)

Silkwood (1983)

Erin Brockovich (2000)

FWIW.

Ooh, Erin Brockovich might work, although yes, it's no masterpiece.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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There isn't a film about Mukhtaran Bibi, but perhaps there should be. I don't if this story should be placed here, perhaps it should be placed in the Politics forum under a different caption - I'll leave that up to you, Alan - but this woman's ongoing story seems to fall under the "Accidental Hero" topic.

Mukhtaran was gang-raped 3 years ago in Pakistan, under tribal council orders. Instead of ending her life, which apparently is the purpose of such a sentence - to shame someone into committing suicide - Mukhtaran had her tormentors prosecuted through the government court systems. 6 people were sentenced to death. She also received a little over $8,000 in compensations, money which she took and built 2 schools in her village - one school for boys, the other for girls - in the hope that educating the young would lead to a change in attitudes that led to her attack. Being illiterate herself, she also enrolled in one of the schools to begin her formal education.

On Monday, the courts overturned their ruling, and allowed five of the attackers freed - to be able to return to the very village where the crime took place.

This is a NY Times article, so registration is required, and I'll warn you that the story is harsh at times.

Article here.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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EB is interesting--I'll have to watch it again. But, I still wonder about the nature of her heroism. Is using sexual allure heroic? How is she transformed?

Hm. Well, she goes from being a woman who's just looking for a job--nothing but a way to support her family--to a woman who sees her job as a calling, a mission. Yes, at times she uses "tools" she already knows how to use--sexual allure--maybe not her finest moments. But she also uses compassion and friendship and persistence that she may not have known she had to offer to anyone other than her immediate friends and family, and she studies and discovers new skills as well. The push-up bras & strappy high-heels are just a distraction. She has to learn to balance her family and work obligations--no easy task, and there are sacrifices, as always.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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  • 2 weeks later...
One of my group participants researched this issue, not finding much, and sent me the note below. I'm no closer to finding an appropriate film featuring a woman as an 'accidental hero'. Mrs. Miniver is the closest. There are lots of "almosts", but nothing quite right. Any foreign films come to mind? Anyone?
WOW! Just checked out the AFI top list of heros and villains.  Amazing how few of the top heroes are women (and Lassie DOESN'T count!) and how many of the top VILLIANS are. Gotta be a women's studies doctoral dissertation in that!

Hmm. Can't help noticing that among the AFI heroes are the three I suggested--Norma Rae, Karen Silkwood, and Erin Brockovich. They were eliminated as "accidental heroes" because--?

Do the movies have to be recent? How many people does the "accidental heroine" have to save? Sometimes the life you save is your own, and/or your nearest and dearest. What about Rose Thayer in The African Queen? Amy in Fly Away Home? Jane Eyre in any version of Jane Eyre? Mu Lan in Mu Lan?

That's all I've got for now. smile.gif

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Mu Lan? Don't know that one...

Roger Ebert reviews Mulan

I'm serious about Jane Eyre. It's not all about the romance. Susan Isaacs (and others) point out

Yes, Jane Eyre loved Edward Rochester, but her lifelong quest was not for love but for justice....She is my favorite example of a complex and heroic female character, a brave dame. She had high moral standards, stood up to injustice, and was willing to leave civilization and face the wild, even death, rather than do wrong.
(Isaacs) Jane has little control over her circumstances, but much over herself and how she responds.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Mulan I know -- didn't realize that's it. My bad.

Or my mis-spelling! blush.gif

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Whale Rider? Heroism of a different sort, but might work.

Or there is the TV Bible Collection movie on Esther. (or Esther and the King - although I've not seen it)

Matt

Edited by MattPage
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  • 4 months later...

Are you still looking for female accidental heroes?

I agree with BethR on Norma Rae.

How about The Long Walk Home? I haven't seen it, but from what I know of it, it seems to qualify.

You asked about foreign films...what about Osama? I'm not sure what qualifies as "heroic," but what about Babette's Feast? Babette is certainly the hero of the film, and didn't set out to be.

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  • 1 month later...

Perhaps Dorothy Day in Entertaining Angels.

Denny

Edited by Denny Wayman

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

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Any other documentary suggestions?

No More Tears, Sister: Anatomy of Hope and Betrayal.

The film's official site has more information if you want to arrange a screening. It would be a good companion piece to Hotel Rwanda.

A&F thread is here.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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Not in Netflix...

Not yet. You might be able to arrange a screening from National Film Board of Canada. Kind of a long shot. Maybe next year.

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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