Women In Films User Or Victim Essay

Women In Films: User Or Victim? Essay, Research Paper

Women in Films: User or Victim?

Robert L. Dye Jr. English 1013

Women in Films: User or Victim?

Designed to prove that a woman can be anybody she desires to be, the legendary

film, Evita, is now shown to millions of movie viewers. Alan Parker=s Evita is

a reflection of the much-publicized images of two popular self-made heroines of

different era, Evita and Madonna. The discussion of this essay will show us how

these ladies got far and revered once by their followers.

The life of Evita Peron is almost like a dramatization of a romantic fiction,

about the tale of a young and poor illegitimate girl, who escapes the cruelty

and poverty of her hometown, and Aflees to the big city to become a movie star,

fights her way to the top through succession of men, marries her country=s

president, only to die at a young age of 33″ (Harbinson 154). Eva was born

illegitimate in a small remote town of Argentina, and spent most of her

childhood life under a cloud of illegitimacy. Besides being poor, Eva and her

sisters were regarded as bastard children , and for this reason, they were

Alooked upon as >brats= and often prevented from associating with the other

children of thevillage. This sense of rejection and the ridicules that young

Eva and her family received from the other villagers, formed the basis of her

hatred of Argentinas middle and upper classes@ (19).

Eva grew up to be an intelligent, beautiful, and glamorous teen-ager, who

attracted many men=s attention. Aside from her good looks, Eva had the charm

that could get her all the things she wanted, the character of a woman who never

gave into negative circumstances, and a determination so strong, she found her

way to the balcony of the presidential palace of Argentina. The painful

rejection, and the traumatic events of her father=s funeral, when she and her

family were refused entry by his legal wife, were still in Eva=s mind when she

left her hometown for the big city to seek a better life.

Despite her blighted childhood and early personal loss, AEvita never let herself

be a victim, and instead, used her deprivations as a motivating machine. She

developed a strong courage, a ruthless ambition, and a hunger for success and

power@ (185-186). Armed with all the good looks, strong character,

determination to succeed, and, the secret resentment she nurtured against the

ruling classes of Argentina who looked down on her family, Evita was ready to

change her life.

Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, Evita found out that rich and poor people do exist

in the big cities. But this sight did not discourage Eva, and she went on to

become a film and radio performer. Although Evita had the glamour and talent to

become successful, she was also aware of the Acrushing limitations imposed upon

Argentinean women of relentless male chauvinism. It was the men who had the

freedom and earned the money to use it@(25). But Evita was determined not to be

a victim, she instead, use men as a stepping stone to her success as she did to

Augustine Magaldi to escape out of her hometown.

In the film, Evita, Alan Parker portrays Madonna as if it was meant for her to

be born to portray the role. Significantly indeed, Madonna=s life is almost a

replica of Evita=s life: a rags-to-riches tale in which Aearly personal loss is

a motivating factor, and in which, once success is achieved, ruthless will is

deployed to sustain it@ (163). Madonna=a childhood background resembles Evita=s

in many ways. Both came from a working-class background, both lost a parent at

an early age (Evita=s father and Madonna=s mother), and both ladies were

impoverished as little girls. Evita=s fight for success made her a role model

to Madonna, admiring the way she overcame her loss in early life. Despite all

hurdles, Evita used her early tragic experience as a motivating factor to seek

what life has denied her. Madonna, on the other hand, also used her own

childhood loss and fears as springboards to personal freedom. Like Evita,

Madonna left her hometown to seek a better life. Similarly, Madonna too, was

obliged to used men to get what she wanted (185).

According to a review by Ken Mandelbaum, Madonna does not only have the perfect

look for the role of Evita–stunning, tough, enigmatic–but the persona has much

in common with that of the woman she is playing. Both ladies got far on glamour,

detemination, controversy, the ability to influence styles and play a crowd, and

somewhat limited skills. In addition, he stated that Madonna is a legend-in-

her-time playing another one (26).

As the film opens with the contrasting funerals of Eva=s father and her own, we

are introduced to Che (Antonio Banderas), the floating narrator who represents

all the feelings held against Eva as politician and woman. He then takes us

through a journey. First, a young and ambitious Eva, seeking riches and fame.

Eva is fifteen years old when she met a nightclub singer, Augustine Magaldi, and

begs him to take her to Buenos Aires. Although Eva finds out that the big city

of her dreams is not exactly what she dreamed about, she carves out a career as

a radio and film actress, becomes popular, and Aslowly bounces up the social

ladder with the help of her escorts@ (Parker 38). She then meets the poltical

bravado Juan Peron (Jonathan Pryce), whom she instantly charms, and leaves the

concert with him. Eva eventually moves into Peron=s residence and shows the

door to Peron=s mistress. Consequently, Eva becomes Peron=s strongest ally

despite numerous criticisms by the military and the Oligarchy (ruling classes)

who Aview her as a whore@ (Harbinson 157).

Then the journey takes us to a confident and adored Eva. Now, with a dignity

to her face, Eva looks stunning and beautiful standing next to her husband and

the newly -elected President, Juan Peron. As Harbinson would put it, The

carnality and the dignity combined turned her into a common dream. Those lips

had to know fellatio. Those dark eyes had to know what suffering meant. Thus

her beauty speaks to all and bridges two worlds. On the one hand is the flesh

that learnt its lessons, on the other is that nobility, that transcendent,

outpouring love that turns the most sinful woman into a saint. Evita was now a

saint. She had paid her dues and emerged trimphant. (105)

The scene at the balcony of Casa Rosada is not a very pleasant view for the

Oligarchs who considers Eva as a ruthless woman. Although the privileged

Argentineans and the ruling classes fear her (on the grounds of vengeance); the

masses of people, majority of whom are underprivileged working class, worshipped

Eva, now known as Evita. Evita is finally on top of the world. Her followers

revere her, as she has finally defeated the Oligarchy, she uplifted the living

standards of the working classes and Evita has given the Argentinean women the A

right to vote, set up homes for unmarried working girls, and stimulated the idea

of women in careers – all these in a country where women had never had a role

before (106).

And the last journey, a stricken Evita. According to Alan Parker, for eleven

eleven months, Argentina witnessed Eva=s slow and public dying. Eva fell into a

steep and sudden decline, and on July 26, 1952, she died of cancer at the age of

33 (13). Evita, once a poor girl, became Argentina=s most beloved heroine, and

the most hated enemy to the ruling Oligarchs. Accused of being a >whore= and

a>ruthless adventuress,= by the well-to-do, Evita is considered a >saint= by her

followers. She became the saviour of the underprivileged Argentineans, and

above all, she changed the cultural stereotype of women in Argentina. Ruthless

or not, her memory will always remain to the suppressed of Argentina.

Whether these two ladies, Evita and Madonna, used men to get to the top or not,

it is a tribute to their iron will, to their already highly developed sense of

survival, to their strong fighting spirit, and to their determination to succeed,

that they became what they wanted to be. Evita and Madonna may not exactly be

the role models some mothers would want their daughters to follow, but many

women would love to have the strong characters they possessed which made them


Works Cited

Evita. Writ. Alan Parker and Oliver Stone. Sir. Alan Parker. Hollywood Pictures,


Harbin, W. A. Evita: Saint or Sinner? New York: St. Martin, 1996

Mandelbaum, Ken. “Review: Evita.” Theatre Week. 30 Dec. 1996: 26

Parker, Alan. The Making of Evita. Canada: Collins Publishers. 1996


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