The Beguiled – Civil War Female Empowerment
The Beguiled, the movie that won Sofia Coppola the best-director award at Cannes this year (the first time a woman has won in 56 years), is the story of female companionship and bonding, set in a Southern plantation home against the backdrop of the Civil War. The women are alone in their boarding school, cut off from their families by the war, when they take in an injured enemy soldier, who is trying to desert.
The women have been forced to rely upon each other for their very survival since the war began, growing the food they eat and tending to the garden and the house. And despite the war at the very edge of their world, they manage to keep up their studies, manners, and wardrobes, too.
However, the introduction of a man into their midst throws off the balance they’ve established and threatens the safety of their sanctuary. They struggle with what is the right course of action, and ultimately make a choice that preserves their world.
The film is full of wonderful performances.
Starring Nicole Kidman as the school’s owner Miss Martha, Kirsten Dunst as Edwina the teacher, Elle Fanning as Alicia, one of the teenage girls at the school, and Colin Farrell as the enemy soldier McBurney, The Beguiled is an atmospheric thriller, set in and around the plantation house that serves as their school and home.
For Coppola, the draw was to explore the story from the female characters’ perspective, in stark contrast to the 1971 film of the same name, which stars Clint Eastwood.
“I’ve always been intrigued by how women interact, and I’ve seen how they can sometimes change when a man is around.”
Coppola went on to say, “I imagined what it was like for women at the that time, and how they were raised to be ladies, with etiquette and charm, catering to men, and then all of a sudden they were on their own and had to learn how to survive. I just imagine that these characters had to find their strength, especially Miss Martha, to protect the rest of these women. And that drew me to the story.”
Commenting on the aesthetic of the film, and the minimal dialogue in the script, Coppola said, “I feel like men communicate verbally and physically, but women say so much with a glance or their tone. I love the way women communicate in that way that only other women understand. The story was so right for all those glances and moments and I wanted to try to show that.”
The Beguiled is rated R and opens in theaters June 23rd.
Sarah Auerswald is the co-Founder of MomsLA.com. Photos courtesy of Focus Features.