A call to arms from Empire magazine’s ‘geek queen’, Helen O’Hara, that explores women’s roles – both in front of and behind the camera – since the birth of Hollywood, how those roles are reflected within wider society and what we can do to level the playing field.
The dawn of cinema was a free-for-all, and there were women who forged ahead in many areas of filmmaking. Early pioneers like Dorothy Arzner (who invented the boom mic, among other innovations) and Alice Guy-Blache shaped the way films are made. But it wasn’t long before these talented women were pushed aside and their contributions written out of film history.
How and why did this happen?
Hollywood was born just over a century ago, at a time of huge forward motion for women’s rights, yet it came to embody the same old sexist standards. Women found themselves fighting a system that feeds on their talent, creativity and beauty but refuses to pay them the same respect as their male contemporaries – until now…
The tide has finally begun to turn. A new generation of women, both in front of and behind the camera, are making waves in the industry and are now shaping some of the biggest films to hit our screens.
There is plenty of work still needed before we can even come close to gender equality in film – but we’re finally headed in the right direction.
In Women vs Hollywood: The Fall and Rise of Women in Film, Empire’s ‘geek queen’ Helen O’Hara takes a closer look at the pioneering and talented women of Hollywood and their work in film since Hollywood began. Equal representation in film matters because it both reflects and influences wider societal gender norms. In understanding how women were largely written out of Hollywood’s own origin story, and how the films we watch are put together, we can finally see how to put an end to a picture that is so deeply unequal – and discover a multitude of stories out there just waiting to be told.
‘An enlightening page-turner, stacked with stories and stats that will have your jaw on the floor’ Anna Smith, host of the Girls On Film podcast
‘This is the film history we need: one that gives leading roles to people who usually only get to be background players’ Pamela Hutchinson, film historian and critic