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Six Reasons Antonia’s Line (1995) Can Empower Us All

October 26, 2015

antoniaIf you have eyes and ears that are in tune with pop culture over the past few years, it’s more than likely that you’ve realized the hotness of feminism as a topic of discussion. The discourse runs the gamut on how to provide basic equal rights for women, while more sensationalized articles argue over who is doing it “right” and who is not. Feminism has become such a trending piece that everyone has jumped on board concocting their own brand of feminism to shout to the world. Beyoncé did it with her VMA performance last year, Miley Cyrus is doing it with her expression of female sexuality, the “Free the Nipple” campaign is taking off, women and men all over the world are raising awareness, and even cities like my own are becoming involved. Earlier this year, Atlanta proudly presented the city’s first installment of the feminist centered art and discussion based Ladyfest, which holstered the city’s foremost thinkers, artists, and activists together for the sake of women’s rights and expression.

Feminism’s revamp in recent years educates men and women alike on how to view the history of the movement and its current activists. Of all the films I’ve seen, of all the books I’ve read, not one of them has presented a brand of feminist lifestyle that is as practical and empowering as the life led by Antonia in Marleen Gorris’ powerful film Antonia’s Line. Willeke van Ammelrooy carries the film as Antonio, a strong, boss of a woman who returns to her childhood home in a small Dutch village for the death of her mother. Once there, Antonia proceeds to break apart everything the tiny village knows as true by creating her own female-centered commune of sorts. The word “feminist” is never uttered in the film, the topic of inequality is never discussed. Antonia doesn’t change the town because she wants to necessarily, she does so because after settling in she realizes she has to.

Gorris’ poignant and tasteful screenplay never oversimplifies the issues within the small town, nor is there a strict line that attempts to separate men and women. Antonia just is, and she just does. She’s like a super hero for women who bounces back from the tragedies of life with strength tenfold. She manages inequality, empowers those around her, and will pull a shotgun on anyone who hurts her loved ones. After watching Antonia’s Line, I felt rejuvenated with the bold, fierceness of Antonia’s spirit, as if watching her do life “right” was enough for me to get my life together. Here are six reasons why Marleen Gorris is a badass whose film shows viewers a style of living in society that should be emulated by any and everyone.

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  1. Antonia doesn’t need a partner to feel fulfilled. – After returning to her village, Antonia is reunited with an old flame. He is beside himself as she has clearly aged like a fine wine in a cellar surrounded by flowers. He desperately wants to marry her because a man needs a woman and vice versa. But, Antonia sees no need for it. Why should she? She’s got her friends and her daughter to fulfill her. He makes the valid argument that there are needs she needs fulfilled and so does he, so Antonia ponders this for a few seconds and strikes up a deal. No funny business, no status, no commitment; just once a week they get to fulfilling each other’s needs, more times a week if necessary, and he handles the heavier things around the house and farm that she can’t. Gorris shows that it’s ok to not be defined by a relationship and that Antonia has bigger fish to fry in life rather than worry about the drama of being in one.
  2. Antonia is the breadwinner for her family – That bigger fish that keeps Antonio preoccupied is the entire country side that she and her family live on. There are fields that get tended to, seeds planted, and produce and goods aggregated. Antonia enlists the help of the villages most subjugated and under respected patrons to help her small farm become a breeding ground of life for those in her care. Anyone willing to lace up their boot straps and work the way she needs them to gets  taken care of with love and respect from Antonia.
  3. She raises intelligent free thinking offspring – Antonia arrives home with her teenage daughter Danielle in tow. As time goes by we learn of many things about Danielle, but most importantly is her desire for a child but not a husband. Antonia never discourages her daughter’s wish to procreate and instead helps her find a suitable candidate to impregnate her and together Antonia and Danielle raise the child, who turns out to be a prodigy of sorts whom with age then gives birth to the film’s narrator.
  4. Women have sexual freedom – All the women in Antonia’s camp possess a freedom not seen often, if at all, in films. For some of the women in the film, there is no romantic attachment to a male at all. For others, the women equally share parenting responsibilities with their partners, some women are lesbians, and others choose marriage or choose to give birth as many times as they want. No one judges, no one defines themselves by their status, and no one scoffs… only the church and the simple-minded villagers do.
  5. Women possess safe choices for their bodies – When Danielle’s daughter Therèse becomes pregnant a debate briefly sparks over whether she should keep it or not, a decision she ultimately makes on her own. However, before she does so half of the villagers in Antonia’s camp tell her to keep it while the other half suggests getting rid of it. There are no religious ties or moral obligations just what they suggest based on her situation and ultimately she decides for herself. The fact that safe, acceptable options are there for her if she chooses to have an abortion is a rare find in films.
  6. Antonia gets to choose when she wants to die –This isn’t a spoiler alert. The first minute of the film informs you that in her old age Antonio decides to die. The rest of the film follows her history leading up to the moment of her death. In fairy tale like fashion, Antonia gets to live her life the way she wants to, fostering love in everything and everyone she befriends, and on her own terms she gets to decide when to call it quits. There’s nothing more empowering than that.

SEE IT. Then join me in my future commune in the woods.

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