Ask Sanityville: What are some good movies for girls?

It’s not hard to find a movie that has masciline lead displaying virtues that I hope my boys embrace.

It’s harder for girls, obviously. Hollywood hates the notion of a woman being a submissive and obedient helper, and they actively avoid any such portrayal.

I’m curious if any of you can think of films that have good aspirational characters for teen/tween girls.


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They live together openly??


Seems like one of those extreme cases make bad precedents for law kind of thing.

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The only ones I can think of are BBC productions of classic novels, like Austen’s works, and Gaskell’s, and Dickens’. Anne of Green Gables might do… those novels get pretty feminist later on, but the first one is okay. I can’t remember how the film is, I’m sorry to say.

Heidi, maybe?


Anne of Green Gables was my first thought, but I’m having trouble remembering a lot of feminism in the books. I even read the first 6 fairly recently, and can’t remember anything more than advocating for women’s higher education.


I wish I could remember specifics, but it was several years ago, at least. Actually, I think it was when I was pregnant with the three-year-old, and I was so sick, so it’s very unrealistic for me to expect myself to remember, haha!

What I do recall is a very strong “girls are as good as boys at everything” attitude. Incipient feminism, first wave I guess, rather than the complete disaster we see today.

You might find it interesting to search online for “feminism in Anne of Green Gables”. I sure did! Some of it seems like a stretch because they want it to be there, but the rest is legit. “Marilla, why can’t girls be ministers?”

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I did Google it a bit, and by far most of the articles seem to be modern feminists trying to make the books say things they aren’t. They’re very similar to the same literary critics trying to make Lizzie Bennet into a feminist hero because she’s smart and feisty. There are surely things to disagree with in the Anne books, but they have far more good to offer than negatives. For that matter, even Jane Austen isn’t perfect, but we still love her :wink:.


It’s true that they try very hard to make Austen into what she’s not!

But L.M. Montgomery isn’t the same, I don’t think. In the later books, there’s a definite strengthening of Anne’s feminist tendencies.

That’s not to say that I think we should throw them out! I just wanted to point out what to watch for. It’s something I’d want to be aware of if I had a girl who loved Anne, and thus wished to emulate her.

Disclaimer: We don’t watch a lot of movies. I could give you a better list of great books to read with girls. But here are a few of our favorites:

The first Anne of Green Gables movie is very good, the second I haven’t seen in a long time so I can’t remember how it holds up, just that it changes significantly from the books. The third is universally hated, has nothing to do with the books and should never be watched :slight_smile:.

Little Women is more of a mixed bag, but has enough good that I think it’s worth watching (or reading) and talking through with your girls. I watched the first episode of the PBS miniseries that came out last year and really enjoyed it, but didn’t finish it so can’t absolutely recommend it.

The Sound of Music and Fiddler on the Roof are classics and great girl movies! Also Jane Austen movies, although preferably only after they read the books.

This might be less of what you’re looking for, but for a modern lighter movie, we recently enjoyed Ramona and Beezus, which had a surprisingly good (for a modern secular movie) father/daughter relationship. The dad lost his job at the beginning of the movie, but never stopped leading his family and working to keep everyone’s spirits up while looking hard for a new job. It’s more of a sweet movie to watch the family relationships rather than having aspirational characters, but still a fun one to watch together.

I was wondering about Little Women, but it’s been simply ages since I watched it!

Thanks much for the ideas.

For extra credit – a movie that has an aspirational female character for my 12 year old girl – and is interesting to my 15, 13, 10, and 8 year old boys. :slight_smile:

I was just thinking of this one recently. I remember that being such a pleasant surprise! I have been racking my brain, but having a hard time coming up with anything that hasn’t been mentioned. Most movies I see nowadays are little kid movies, so I’m having a hard time remembering enough to recommend any old favorites.

My wife says Fiddler on the Roof is not a good girl movie. The movie is a celebration of how the father is increasingly emasculated as each of his daughters defies his guidance in choice of husband. Plus his wife is passive-aggressively unsubmissive. My wife wouldn’t want our daughters modeling themselves on any of the female characters.


Definitely agree. His wife is a contentious woman and his daughters just ignore him (they feel bad about it, but that doesn’t stop them!).

I did hesitate before listing it, and included it mostly because of the how fun it is to have a movie about a family of all sisters and how great the music is (it’s one of my daughters’ favorite records). And we usually stop at the first half of the movie, after Tzeitel’s wedding. After that the story does start to get depressing on multiple levels. You’re right that many of the characters aren’t ones I’d want my daughters emulating, but I do think Tzeitel’s appeal to her father not to force her to marry Lazar Wolf is as sweet and submissive an interaction as you could hope to find in a movie. The rest of the movie offers a lot to talk through of negative examples along with the positive.


Double extra credit: Which Bible stories do I want to introduce to my daughters that will give them a female lead to emulate?

(I don’t think life is about finding perfect role models. That’s what’s hard about the Bible. We have to think about what it’s telling us. If a movie has to be perfect, give up the search right now.)


Very good point!

There is a line, though, as I’m sure you’ll agree. I, personally, don’t think Fiddler on the Roof is worth it, mostly because the story’s goal is making the viewer sympathetic to the rebellious daughters.

But something like Anne of Green Gables could be a good movie to watch, even though it’s flawed, as long as we’re aware of what exactly it’s pushing and we can use that to teach what is true.

I don’t find Anne & co. the most stellar examples of how girls should handle emotions. Darma, drama, drama. Pathos, pathos, pathos.


Kelly, was your “They live together openly” comment about Sweet Land? It bugged me that after the minister clearly comes around, they don’t demand that he marry them. Or they could have traveled to another town to find a minister or JP who would. I love that she protects her virtue, and when she finally invites him upstairs, I sort of take that scene as her commitment to be his wife, not just his mistress. If a man and a woman were stranded on a desert island together, I think they could legitimately “marry” without a formal ceremony, and perhaps we can grant the same to Lars and Inge, whose legitimate intent to be married is thwarted by circumstances. But I do wish they’d tried a little harder.