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Films relevant to women in history

1193 BC
The Trojan Women

The Trojan-Greek Conflict from the Point of View of Women

Based on the Euripides tragedy about the aftermath of Troy, the film stars Katherine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave, Irene Papas and Genevieve Bujold.

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antiquity | political intrigue | classic literature | women in history |

30 BC

Cleopatra engages in world-changing drama

The beautiful queen of Egypt uses here guile and beauty to conquer those who would conquer her land. The film dramatizes the political intrique that brought the dynasties of the Egyptian Pharaohs to an end, the empire of Rome to a beginning and the deaths of three of the periods most powerful figures: Julius Ceasar; Cleopatra; and Mark Antony.

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Rome, Egypt, antiquity, battle scenes, women in history, aspirations | Cleopatra | Julius Ceasar | Mark Antony | Octavian

The Nativity Story

The Birth of Jesus

This film looks at the society and politics surrounding the birth of Christ.

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Christianity | Bible | Women in History | monarch | Jesus | Mary | Joseph | Herod

The Messenger

Joan of Arc Fights to Liberate France

The motivating actions of a peasant girl who claimed revelations from saints help the French lift the siege of Orlean's in 1429 during the Hundred Year's War. This siege was part of the power struggle in France that had accelerated with Henry V's victory at Agincourt.

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France, battle scenes, monarchs, political intrigue, religious strife, medieval period, women in history, aspirations |

Anne of a Thousand Days

Anne Boleyn Plays Her Pivotal Role in British History

Henry VIII has his second wife beheaded in his search for a male heir to his throne. Ironically, their daughter Elizabeth would grow to take the throne.

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monarchs of England | political intrigue | Richard Burton | Irene Papas | Anthony Quinn | Tudors | women in history |

The Legend of Suriyothai

Thai Queen Suriyothai's Sacrifice Leads to Victory

This Thai production shows the romantic politics and political maneuvering that culminates in a decisive battle with Siam

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women in history | battle | Asia | Thailand | .

Lady Jane

Great-Granddaughter of Henry VII Caught in a Political Web

Sitting on the throne for less than two weeks, Lady Jane Grey falls victim to the political machinations that put her in power in a failed attempt to block the Catholic Mary from ruling England.

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monarchs of England | political intrigue | religious conflict | women in history |


Elizabeth I ascends to the throne and meets challenges

The movie examines the uncertainties of Elizabeth's ascension and her early years as queen.

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monarchs of England | political intrigue | women in history |

Young Bess

After Years of Uncertainty, Elizabeth Ascends to the Throne

Following the early life of Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, this film reflects a steadfastness in young Elizabeth and court treachery and, in the film, her own affection for a powerful man toss her back and forth in both politics and love. With Jean Simmons as Elizabeth, Charles Laughton as Henry VIII, Deborah Kerr as Catherine Parr and Stewart Grainger as Tom Seymour, the film is a model example of good acting and screen presence from the era of Technicolor spectacles in the 1940's and 1950's. The film was released in 1953, the coronation year of Queen Elizabeth II.

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England, monarch, women in history, court intrigue, romance, Elizabeth |

Elizabeth I

Queen Elizabeth I is courted by the Earl of Leicester

This account of the Virgin Queen's love life features Helen Mirren who won an Oscar in 2007 for her role in The Queen, a biopic about Queen Elizabeth II.

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monarchs of England | royalty | Oscar | personal lives of public people | women in history |

The Virgin Queen

Queen Elizabeth I ascends to the crown

Sir Walter Raleigh charms his way into Queen Elizabeth's favor, only to incur her wrath when he woos and weds one of her ladies in waiting. Bette Davis returns to the role of QE I with all the fire and power she portrayed in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex.

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monarchy, women in history, queens, court intrigue, romance, fight scenes, | Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Beth Throckmorton

Queen Christina

The Queen of Sweden Works Through the Challenges of Rule

Greta Garbo portrays the Swedish sovereign weighing personal concerns against the good of her country and continent.

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women in history | monarchs | 30 Years War | Sweden |

The Scarlet Empress

Catherine the Great Takes Control of Russia

A young German princess is married into the Russian Imperial family, only to beguile the court and military officers and become the great empress of Russia. Marlene Dietrich, under the direction of Josef von Sternberg, conquers the screen like Catherine conquered her court.

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Russia | women in history | women in power | monarchy | Chatherine the Great

Marie Antoinette

French Queen's Life Up to the Revolution

Marie Antoinette (1744-1793) lives a privileged if complicated life in the opulence of the French court as poverty and discontent in society lead to revolution.

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monarchs, France, revolution, political intrigue, romance, costume drama, women in history | Marie Antoinette, Louis XVI, Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II

Becoming Jane

Jane Austin and Thomas Langlois Lefroy in a Relationship

Based on information from the letters of Jane Austin, takes its own look at the style of love portrayed in Austin's novels.

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women in history | literature | feminism | Jane Austin

The Young Victoria

Victoria Weds Albert

After a courtship full of court intrigue, Queen Victoria settles into her happy marriage with her cousin Prince Albert. A highly detailed look at the transitional period in a young woman's life and how it was also a transition in history.

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monarchs | queens | marriage | politics | England | 19th century | Women in History | Queen Victoria | Prince Albert | King William IV | Robert Peel | Lord Melbourne

Mrs. Brown

Queen Victoria Rules with Help of Scotsman

Queen Victoria grows close to a Scottish servant in her court after the death of her husband Prince Albert. The relationship, while of personal importance to the Queen, becomes a matter of concern for others around her.

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women in history | monarch | Britain | queens |

Madame Curie

Woman Scientist Pioneers the Field of Radioactivity

The first person to win two Nobel Prizes, Madame Curie advanced the field of radioactivity, discovering new elements and ways to isolate them.

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science | women in history | Nobel Prize | radioactivity | nuclear power | Madame Curie

Rasputin and the Empress

Mystic Casts Spell Over Russian Czarina

The Barrymore family, John, Ethel and Lionel, portray the mystic who exerted great influence over the Czarina of Russia in the last days of the Russian Empire.

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russia | monarchs | women in history | religion | mysticism | Rasputin | Czarina Alexandra | Czar Nicholas II

Inn of the Sixth Happiness

Missionary Woman Prevails Over the Perils of War and Nature

This movie about British missionary Gladys Alyward shows the final years of an era in Chinese history. Set in a remote and very traditional town, Alyward acts against corruption and oppressive practices. But the the coming of the Second Sino-Chinese war extends her missionary work into the strenuous rescue of nearly 100 refugee children. Alyward is played by Ingrid Bergman; also, Robert Donat is shown in his final role.

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women in history, China, Japan, World War II, aspirations | Gladys Alyward


The Life of Argentina's First Lady and Champion of the Poor

Madonna stars in the role of the wife of populist Argentinian president Juan Peron.

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women in history, musicals, Argentina, Latin America | Eva Peron, Juan Peron


Labor Activist Dies Mysteriously Investigating Plutonium Processing

Karen Silkwood, a production worker at the Kerr-McGee plutonium plant, looks into questionable practices in her work place. She dies in a mysterious car accident on her way to talk to a New York Times reporter.

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environmental film, women in history, nuclear power | Karen Silkwood

Gorillas in the Mist

Naturalist is killed in her effort to save gorillas in Africa

The sacrifice of Dian Fossey spurred an international effort to conserve gorillas and their habitat in Africa.

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environmental film, Africa, nature, women in history | Dian Fossey

Erin Brockovitch

Woman Challenges Electric Utility about Water Pollution

A clerk in a law firm follows the thread of an illness to find that PG&E was using hexavalent chromium to line cooling towers. The lawsuit resulted in a $333 million settlement by PG&E.

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environmental film, film about law, women in history | Erin Brockovich

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