Everyone knows that complex and empowering female characters are difficult to find in mainstream films. But there are some who have stood out and become the changing faces of feminism in cinema. In this monthly column, Jade Bate looks at her favourite film heroines who are strong, empowering and kick ass.
Last month I learned the heartbreaking news that my beloved Studio Ghibli was shutting down indefinitely. The legendary Japanese animation studio, founded by the incredible Hayao Miyazaki, has produced some of the greatest films of all time. Their movies enable audiences both young and old to be transported to fantasy lands that fuel the imagination with tales of extraordinary adventures.
Studio Ghibli’s films are cherished by audiences for offering strong, realistic heroines. Ghibli films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Kiki’s Special Delivery Service all feature female protagonists. In comparison to Western animation houses like Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks, Ghibli’s long-standing focus on female characters is truly revolutionary. Disney heroines have only recently come into their own, with films like Brave and Frozen shifting the focus away from romantic love. Ghibli’s heroines are more concerned about saving the world than singing about their woes. Spirited Away, Howl’s and Kiki are all incredible Studio Ghibli films with extraordinary female leads, but it is Miyazaki’s 1997 film Princess Mononoke that is perhaps the most female-empowering piece of cinema in the studio’s repertoire.