Shirley Valentine (1989)

Essay by jeyy06 October 2009

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I consider "Shirley Valentine" an interesting and inspired movie for it makes the married woman Shirley has the courage to dream again and have the opportunity to pursue her dreams. And the movie also reminds me of many literary works and movies that focus on the feminine issue, such as the play "A doll's house" written by Henrik Ibsen and movie "The purple Rose of Cairo" directed by Woody Allen. In those works, the female characters experience the oppression of their husbands and marriage, in the same time they also have the burden of children and many house chores. Therefore, they are eager to be changed or do something different.

In the beginning of the movie, the main character Shirley is talking to the wall in the kitchen as if the wall is her close friend. After marry to her husband, she always has to stay in the kitchen prepare for the meal and do other house chores.

There is no one in the house will accompany her or listen to her. What is more, she seldom goes out with her friends after being married, so this is the only way that she releases her pressure and emotions. I think it is a common and miserable phenomenon which implies that under the circumstance, woman has nothing to do but accept the reality. Just like the main female character in "The Purple Rose of Cairo", Cecilia. She has a husband who has bad temper and used to abuse her and scold at her. In order to escape from the reality, she often goes to the theater and relaxes herself by seeing movie. In "A doll's house", Nora tends to spend money on buying luxurious things, just like the modern people usually do compulsive buying for relaxing. Only "the wall", "the movie" and "spending" can accept women's feelings, and never against them.

After Shirley had a quarrel with her husband, she decides to go to Greece. She realizes that she must escape from the situation for a while. At the same time, Cecilia in "The purple rose of Cairo" falls into love with the handsome movie character. When the character in the movie becomes real person and walk out from the movie screen for being attracted by Cecilia, Cecilia decides to leave her house and go with him. I consider it a revolution of women. The traditional women usually tolerate the thing which they cannot endure, and I think these two movies give us an impression that women can be brave and courageous to make their life different and their life will be no longer controlled by other people. Just like Nora leave her children and husband at the end of the play, this kind of revolution can also brings some influences on the people around women, such as Shirley's husband reflect on himself after Shirley' s leave, and he changes himself and go to Greece to find Shirley.

However, Sometimes the revolution of women will not necessarily brings the good consequence like Shirley Valentine. In "The purple rose of Cairo", because of the officials of the movie company afraid that if the character in the movie really leave with Cecilia, then their movie will become a mess and they will lose their audience and the money. Therefore, they make the actor of the character to seduce Cecilia to leave the character and go with him. Cecilia chooses to go with the actor, who is a real person instead of the illusory character, and the character goes back to screen at the end. Sarcastically, when Cecilia has already packed her things and back to the theater finding that there is no one waiting for her. All the company officials and the handsome actor, who promises to bring her to Hollywood, disappear. It is really ironic that she chose the imaginary character at first in order to escape from her husband and the struggles of reality, but she chose the real person at the end losing her everything. I think it is a same case that Shirley decide to stay at Greece seeing the man seducing another woman when she go back to meet him, but no matter what happened to Shirley on her way of finding her own self, she has a good solution after all.

Bibliography/References"Shirley Valentine" (film), 1989, directed by Lewis Gilbert.