Directed by: Karen Arthur | 170 minutes | drama, history | Actors: Dana Delany, Annabeth Gish, Angelina Jolie, Tina Majorino, Rachael Leigh Cook, Michael York, Jeffrey Nordling, Salli Richardson, Tony Todd, Julie Carmen, Matthew Glave, Terrence Mann, John Schneider, Michael Greyeyes, Anne Tremko, Charles S Dutton, Powers Boothe, Khadijah Karriem, Haylie Duff, Hilary Duff
The story of ‘True Women’ is based on the novel of the same name by Janice Woods Windle, who based the story on the true adventures of women in her own family. Historical stories are often told through the eyes of men, around famous heroes or villains. Even though romances often appear in those films, the ‘normal’ women of that time usually have no more than a supporting role. Or so it seems. ‘True Women’ shows the role of women during revolutions and wars. And not just the role of the woman who waits and hopes that her husband will return from the battle, but of an important person in history. The film shows that women have a hard time in these situations at least as hard as men, because although the latter group ventures onto the battlefield,
Friends Euphemia and Georgia are separated at a young age because Euphemia is forced to live with her sister Sarah and his husband in Texas after the death of her father. The two grow apart, and each experience a different side of the turbulent times in the South of the United States from 1830. Georgia, herself a quarter Indian, especially sees how cruel the Southerners treat the Indians, and how racism and hate the Indians. overtone. In her environment, Euphemia is confronted with the cruelty of the Indians and Mexicans, from which she eventually has to flee, with her sister Sarah as the leader of a huge group of women. In the meantime, they each form different ideas about important issues of the time, such as slavery. If Georgia also moves to Texas with her new husband, the former friends meet again. Although it clashes between the two at first, they come closer together and they both seem to want to fight for the same things.
Due to the good acting performances, the characters and the film itself remain credible. The beautiful images (the film was shot on location in Texas) contribute to this, as does the sense of historical correctness that the film conveys. However, some things do not become clear from the film, such as the fact that the Southern States did indeed lose the civil war against the North. The steps in time are also getting bigger as the film progresses, as if the makers wanted to put all kinds of things into it but did not want to make the film even longer than it already is (almost three hours). The strange thing is that after Georgia and Euphemia are played by two other actresses from a certain point on, the appearance of the three women hardly changes in all those years, until the sudden end.
What often remains hard to believe in historical films, which cover such a long period, is the amount of misery that the main characters get over them. All the misery of the 19th century seems to come on the plate of the main characters of ‘True Women’: the struggle with the Mexicans and later the Indians, racism, slavery, infant mortality, cholera, the American Civil War and women’s suffrage. The three women have to deal with everything.
The formula of two friends or family members who are separated and each experience two different sides of a historically important event is of course not new (think of Anna and Lotte from ‘The Twins’ or Matteo and Nicola from ‘La Meglio Giuventu’) but it often works. The characters therefore serve as a means of emotional involvement of the viewer in such great events. So it is in this film too; although it is not new and sometimes even slightly cliché, it works. Beautiful images, good acting and interesting (true) events make it worth the three hours.