Finding one's voice and identity is a powerful thing, the following films are just a few examples of the many pieces of media that delve into this topic. These are some of my favorites.
Sound of Metal - A drummer with sudden severe hearing loss must come to terms with his new state of being as he struggles with losing his identity as a musician and falls back into addictive behaviors while unexpectedly finding community with people that accept him as he is. I felt this fit well with the "Find Your Voice" theme due to the underlying messages in the film.
The Nun - A young girl is forced against her will to take her vows to become a nun. The film depicts her long struggle to find a way to freedom, and to hold onto her own identity and values despite intense pressure to assimilate into a life she did not choose.
But I'm a Cheerleader - A teenage girl gets sent to gay conversion camp by her concerned parents and inadvertently discovers she is a lesbian after meeting her fellow camp goers, while she is there she discovers that she has no obligations to be anyone but herself, even if it goes against the norms she grew up believing in.
Erin Brockovich - An unemployed single mom lands a job at an attorney's office and finds a huge coverup at the hands of a large corporation with large environmental consequences for many members of a small community.
Whip It - A timid teenager from a small Texas town discovers a love for roller derby, and discovers a new sense of self as she goes to great lengths to compete despite her mother's objections.
The Kings's Speech: Were you ever put in a position where you had to step up unexpectedly and do something way out of your comfort zone? That's what happened to Britain's King George VI, when his brother abdicated in order to marry American divorcee Wallace Simpson. With no desire to be king and a pronounced stutter, he is horrified at this turn of events. This emotional and beautifully acted Oscar winner for best picture, follows his journey to find his voice and become an inspiration in trying times.
Little Voice: This rather obscure older (1998) film is a cult favorite. An extremely introverted woman who barely speaks has a superb singing voice which she never displays to anyone within or outside her home. When it's discovered, there are those who realize they can exploit it, and they encourage her to sing in public. Although she doesn't become a professional singer, she does find her voice in learning to stick up for herself. Veteran actors Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent, Ewan McGregor are excellent but the main actor, Jane Horrocks, is a standout and received accolades, not only for her acting, but for her amazing voice - she did all the singing herself.
A Doll's House: "The door slam heard 'round the world" - the end of this play reverberates all the way from 1879 through the women's movement in the 1960s and 70s to the #MeToo movement of today. Nora Helmer, dutiful wife and mother, dominated by her father and then her husband, gradually comes to realize that her duty is foremost to herself and that she is a free individual with the right to realize her potential beyond wife and mother. In spite of the problems facing a divorced woman without means in 19th century society, she closes the door on her comfortable but constrained life. Ever since, she has served as a symbol for women finding their voice all around the world. DVD
Looking for the encouragement, inspiration, and gently bouncy energy to help you Find Your Voice this summer? Have a listen to Every Voice by award winning songwriter, author, and kids' yoga expert, Kira Willey. Kids of all ages can benefit from a healthy dose of pop-infused empowerment, with reminders that they have strong "Roots," can "Dream It Up," say "Hello Hope," and connect to "The Leader in Me," along with other great songs that round out this solid album.
This week’s theme, “Find Your Voice,” is also the theme for Summer Reading 2023 which encourages all of us to support the life-long learning and self-discovery that is possible through reading, listening, viewing, and reflection. Each of the following films I have selected for this theme depict a protagonist willing to use their voice in service to others.
V for Vendetta – A film in which the mysterious protagonist advocates for a political system that actually represents the will of the people. Join Evey Hammond, the deuteragonist, as she struggles to make sense of it all. Check this film out if you have a penchant for action, thought provoking political thrillers, and romantic tropes.
Stand and Deliver – A well-regarded film which demonstrates what is possible when students receive support, encouragement, and mentorship. Based on the true story of mathematics teacher Jaime Escalante, this film continues to inspire students and teachers alike!
Tarzan – One of my favorite Disney films of all time. Jane helps teach Tarzan how to speak English which he then uses to protect and advocate for his family.
Sing – A heartwarming tale of anthropomorphic animals with mellifluous vocals. Johnny’s experience convincing his dad to support his musical career is a reminder that sometimes staying true to your voice is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things we can do.
Finding your voice does not necessarily require you to speak for others or use your voice for that matter. For me, finding your voice involves self-empowerment and trusting that your inner voice will guide you from right and wrong. What films or songs do you think should have been a part of this list? Don’t forget that you are able to submit a suggestion for purchase for any item that you would like the library to consider adding to the collection. Your voice matters!
In honor of this year's Summer Reading Club theme, here is a list of movies and TV series about characters finding their voice and speaking up for themselves and others.
Marty - This early Paddy Chayefsky teleplay was adapted into this moving film that catapulted character actor Ernest Borgnine to leading man status as well as a Best Actor Oscar. Marty is used to always letting his friends and family dictate his life until he finally discovers the will to stand up for himself. The first film to win the Cannes Palme D'Or and the Best Picture Oscar.
Pygmalion - The first film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's classic play was adapted with Oscar winning excellence by Shaw himself. Oscar nominees Wendy Hiller and Leslie Howard are perfect in the iconic roles of an ambitious flower girl and the famous professor who teaches her to speak properly. The central idea of knowledge being tranformative and empowering is not only echoed in the direct musical adaptation My Fair Lady but also in the parallel works like Born Yesterday (with Judy Holliday famously winning an Oscar) and Educating Rita (with Julie Walters and Michael Caine garnering Oscar nominations).
The Best of Loretta Lynn - Lynn overcame poverty and made the world aware of her legacy as a "Coal Miner's Daughter." Sissy Spacek beautifully played (and won an Oscar) playing Lynn in the film Coal Miner's Daughter. An updated recording of Coal Miner's Daughter is available on Freegal.
I Dreamed a Dream by Susan Boyle - Boyle's life of deferring her dreams until she wowed the world with a stunning performance on Britain's Got Talent feels like a realization of the dreams of so many people who often put their own ambitions on hold for others. Also on Freegal.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
Which of the following musical performances were completely sung by the actor playing the part rather than being dubbed?
Debbie Reynolds in Singin' in the Rain0
Natalie Wood in West Side Story0
Rosalind Russell in Gypsy0
Lucille Ball in Mame0
Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Martin Luther King, Jr.