One perhaps never hears about a discussion or symposium on the topic, “Men-their role in the society.” The discussion is always about women. The never-ending talk of giving equal rights to women goes on unabated. But God has created her, given her the status of more equal. Nobody can take that right away. Mother gives protection for the first nine months to the divine creative force of Nature-male or female! But in actual terms in most of the societies, all over the world, a girl child is victimized at every step of life, from the moment of birth. But there are women like Bette Davis(Charlotte Vale) in Now Voyager and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, who rebel against the so-called established procedures of the era to which they belonged, by the male-dominated society and live the life of their choices. Some choices were out of compulsion and some deliberate. How the women constantly struggle to establish own identities and fight for justice on all fronts affecting their lives?
The genre of Now, Voyager is romance. The theme is sexual awakening and the movie shows how Bette Davis is haunted by the past and challenges it in her own style. The movie shows that such a posture was adopted by the woman of 1940s in USA.
It is said about her upbringing, “Charlotte is high-strung and deeply depressed, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, due to the constant squashing of her thoughts by her mother. There is a little spark of independence, though–she secretly smokes and expresses some creativity by carving ivory boxes.”(Now Voyager…) Charlotte Vale was repressed and that was the launching pad for her adventurous life. Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains) helps to liberate her from the ancient life-styles to emerge as a gorgeous beauty.
The psychologist knew, what beauty meant to a woman, and how it can transform ones personality. As Naomi Wolf writes, “For many women, the Beauty Myth(book) was a tool for empowerment. Like sleuths and critics, they were deconstructing their own beauty myths.”(Wolf, 2002, p.1) The usual and unusual events happen in her life like falling in love (with a man trapped in a loveless marriage.) She also dons the role of surrogate mother to Jerrys emotionally disturbed daughter. Another romance with Lohn Loder takes off but her devotion for Jerry remains in tact. This is the indicator of her grit and the strength of moral character to do things and associate with issues, that she considers right and appropriate. Her philanthropic attitude and all-embracing love breaks several barriers and the movie depicts her self-actualization process. She tackles the stumbling blocks of her life with poise and maintains her essential dignity in awkward situations of her life. She is capable of taking courageous risks. There is a charm in her doomed romance. In a movie of the war-time, social upheavals are acceptable. As per the demand of the time, women began to breath fresh air of new-found freedom.
Julia Roberts(Vivian Ward) is a free-spirited hooker and she becomes a “date” for $3000 to corporate raider Edward Lewis. Both specialize in the art of deception in their respective fields—prostitution and business!The former prostitute becomes his escort for many business functions and in the process develops relationships with him. This movie is a romantic film genre. Such a role by a woman would not have been accepted by the society 50 years ago. How easily Julia Roberts is able to find new respectability and move with her lover in the high corporate circles! Her physical charm is her asset and she cleverly plays that card! She is aware of the strength of empowerment, viewed from beauty-angle! Julia Roberts is the product of the materialistic civilization—making money and enjoy life at all times and at all costs. But the two stranger who came together as part of a business deal, transform, when destiny provides them with a proper opportunity. “ Her being the first person in a long time who could surprise him, Edward can slowly feel the light at the end of the tunnel. He is on his way to become a better person, whereas Vivian has got a new chance to start over again.”(Pretty Woman…)The female character in both the movies lived for certain human values, and they were willing to change for the better, as per the demand of the time.
Now, Voyager (1942) — Trailer for this drama starring Bette Davis .