The Rise of Women in War Movies

THE RISE OF WOMEN IN WAR MOVIES

Regardless of whether you’ve seen one war movie or a hundred and one, you’d be forgiven to think that the only stories worth telling were those of the men who were involved. However in recent years, cinema has seen a refreshing change and the crucial roles that women played in wartime are being brought to the big screen at a greater rate than ever before.

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society shines a light on the island of Guernsey, which had been occupied by Nazi Germany for most of WWII, as it’s occupants try to put their lives back together after being cut off from the rest of Britain during the war. It tells the story of writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James) who learns about the forgotten islanders and visits a group who formed a book club in an effort to make it through those terrible years. Aiming to meet the groups heroic founder Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), Juliet soon finds there’s more to the eccentric club than she initially thought.

To celebrate the release of The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society on April 20, we take a look at some of the most fascinating stories set in war time about women.

CHARLOTTE GRAY (2001)

Based on the exploits of women in Britain’s Special Operations Executive who worked with the French resistance in Nazi-occupied France, Charlotte Gray (Cate Blanchett) is the thrilling account of life as a female spy at a time of incredible danger for anyone opposing the German regime. An amalgamation of the lives of real SOE agents Pearl Cornioley, Nancy Wake, Odette Sansom and Violette Szabo, Charlotte Gray takes part in a Resistance mission that brings the Nazis attention to the group of fighters and the Jews they suspect them of protecting.

ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012)

Katherine Bigelow’s account of the world’s biggest manhunt to find and kill Osama Bin Laden was both a critical and box office success. Writer Mark Boal had heard about a woman who had been recruited into the CIA straight out of college and had spent her entire career tracking down Bin Laden and so focused the story on her. Although Jessica Chastain’s strong-willed Maya is a fictional character, he has stated that she is “based on a real person, but she also represents the work of a lot of other women.”

THE IMITATION GAME (2014)

Although the film is about Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his innovative code-breaking machine, it also shows the team that worked with him that forever changed the outcome of the war due to their incredible intelligence. Keira Knightley plays pioneering code-breaker Joan Clarke, who solves a puzzle that Turing places in the newspaper in an attempt to find only the brightest colleagues to work with. Her parents reportedly did not allow her to work alone with the male cryptographers, so Turing and Clarke created the illusion that she was working with the female clerks that intercept messages so that she could assist the history making team.

THEIR FINEST (2016)

Telling the story of Catrin Cole (Gemma Arterton), a writer hired to pen the “slop” – plausible female dialogue – for war time propaganda, Their Finest is a delightful account of how women broke barriers during the war years. Inspired by real-life scriptwriter Diana Morgan, Catrin’s talents are noticed and she is soon hired to co-write a Dunkirk-epic certain to rally support for the troops both in the UK and in America. She discovers a story about two sisters and makes it her mission to give the girls the empowering movie treatment their tale deserves, despite pressure from all sides to save the heroics for the men.

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY (2018)

When writer Juliet Ashton (Lily James) begins corresponding with members of The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society, she learns about how the islanders survived being occupied by Nazi soldiers for 5 years of WWII. A name that keeps cropping up in the group’s fascinating, and often amusing, anecdotes is Elizabeth McKenna (Jessica Brown Findlay), a headstrong woman who kept moral high during the islands darkest time. Despite being at the heart of the Society’s story, she is mysteriously absent from the island when Juliet decides to visit so she sets out to uncover the secret herself.

THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY COMES TO CINEMAS APRIL 20

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