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When the Disney blockbuster Frozen was first released back in 2013, I remember reading a review which highlighted female empowerment as a major theme in the movie.
Frozen is no ordinary fairytale, the two main characters in this movie are female – Elsa and Anna. These two sisters are both strong, resilient, and quite capable of looking after themselves. I wonder if this contributed to the movie’s success in taking over $1 billion at the box office not to mention the extra from merchandising.
My three daughters aged 3, 4 and 7 at the time, like so many others, were hooked after watching the movie and completely captivated by the catchy soundtrack. We simply could not resist the Frozen mania – many congratulations to the filmmakers!
From this, I have put together a list of films/movies with a strong female lead, which I have enjoyed watching with my daughters over the years – now aged 10, 11 and 14. I am delighted to share some of our favourites with you… girl power here we come!
1. Frozen, U
A very enjoyable animated fairytale musical from Disney – strong female characters, action-packed, catchy tunes and wildly adventurous. Frozen is loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen. This movie perfect for a family movie night with younger viewers.
2. Mulan, 2020 12 A
This live-action remake of Disney’s Mulan is spectacular, and the strong female lead is amazing. We see Mulan overcome many obstacles to discover who she is and triumph over some intense battles. This movie might not be ideal for younger viewers – but do not worry, the original animated version can be enjoyed by the whole family.
3. Matilda, PG
What’s there not to love about this endearing family movie? It is about a brave little girl who learns to stand up for herself and others. Based on Roald Dahl’s popular book by the same name, this movie is a great one to watch with the whole family.
4. Little Women, (2019) PG
This film is based Louisa May Alcott's 19th century novel ‘Little Women’. The film follows the March sisters, as they go through many ups and downs in pursuit of love, happiness and fulfilment. This heart-warming film is suitable for older girls. There are a few versions of the film, but I have only reviewed the 2019 version – but feel free to watch the others too if you wish to compare and contrast.
5. Moana, PG
This Disney musical hits all the right notes plus a strong female lead namely Moana. All the action takes place on the seven seas as we join Moana on an adventure to save her people. This Princess is no pushover! Perfect for a family movie night.
6. Brave, PG
This fun Disney fairytale may not be as popular as the others but it is still very enjoyable and one worth watching with the family. Set in Scotland, Merida the main character discovers what it means to be brave.
7. Queen of Katwe, PG
This feel-good Disney movie is based on a true story and follows the life of Phiona Mutesi, a girl living in Katwe, a slum in Uganda’s capital Kampala. Phiona's life is transformed when she discovers the game of Chess. Also starring David Oyelowo and Lupita N’yong’o, this is a vibrant story of perseverance and courage – a great movie for older girls.
8. Alice in the Wonderland, PG
The live-action remake of Disney’s Alice in the Wonderland is quite spectacular with an all-star cast including Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Loosely inspired by Lewis Caroll’s fantasy novels, this film really stretches the imagination with its level of fantasy. The live-action version is great for older children but might be a little scary for the younger ones. Therefore, opt for the animated version for younger viewers.
9. Heidi, 2015 PG
This 2015 Swiss film is based on the well-known children’s book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri. My girls loved the story, so they were delighted to watch the film. This beautiful film follows the adventures of the main character, Heidi, a vivacious girl with a big smile and a big heart in the Swiss Alps.
10. Sound of Music, PG
This heart-warming family favourite has been passed down the generations and still appeals to so many children today. This Disney musical is based on the real-life story of the Von Trapp family singers. The main female lead, Maria, is played by Julie Andrews who leads her charge astray in all sorts of wonderful musical adventures. A great one for the whole family.
11. Secret Garden 1993, PG
This film is an adaptation of the classic novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett and tells the story of the orphaned girl, Mary. It is a beautiful film with a good moral and one that can be enjoyed by the whole family. And an even more recent version was released in 2020 so take your pick.
12. Annie (2014), PG
This movie puts a modern twist on the classic musical, Annie. This version is set in New York and follows the story of Annie – a street-smart foster child. Annie sees her life transform when she meets the business tycoon, Will Stack. A very enjoyable musical with an upbeat version of the familiar songs we have come to know and love. Suitable for older children.
13. Ballerina, PG
This is a wonderful film about an orphan girl Félicie who dreams of becoming a ballerina in Paris. The main character Félicie displays great qualities and learns some valuable life lessons. My girls love this film and have watched it countless times. Perfect for whole family.
14. Akeelah and the Bee, PG
This is an inspirational film about 11-year-old Akeelah who discovers she has talent for spelling. The film charts her journey to the National Spelling Bee competition in the US. This is a feel-good movie for older children – and who knows, it might inspire your daughter to practice her spellings more often.
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