The film Women are Warriors, directed by Jane Marsh, depicts the relevance of women and their contributions to World War II in an era where males were the dominant gender in many different ways (National Film Board of Canada). The film describes the importance of women and the development of their leadership qualities so that they could be active and present in the war effort along with their male counterparts (National Film Board of Canada). Under these circumstances, women in the film are described as strong individuals who are effective in a variety of roles, including gun operators, parachute nurses, doctors, and ferry operators (National Film Board of Canada). This short film depicts the roles of women in a new light and demonstrates that women, even during the early part of the 20th Century, were becoming increasingly relevant contributors to society and the needs of the people (National Film Board of Canada).
Those portrayed in the film are representative of a new breed of women who were strong, captivating, and supportive of the war effort (National Film Board of Canada). As a result, these women were depicted as key participants in World War II in such countries as Canada and England (National Film Board of Canada). The film appears to suggest that the identity of many of these women during this era was dependent upon their ability to possess inner strength and to stand tall and proud next to the males on the front line because their bravery was essential to the war effort (National Film Board of Canada). Therefore, it is important to recognize how women were portrayed in the film and to observe these roles, which were instrumental in the lives of women during this era (National Film Board of Canada). In a similar context, Tom Daly supports an impressive resume that has contributed to the success of films in the postwar era (Jones, 1989). Furthermore, the film Canada Carries On supports a greater understanding of the war and its relevance to the people of Canada during a particularly difficult historical period (Goetz, 2003).
The story depicted in the short film was somewhat revolutionary at the time because it represented a new breed of females who were fearless and who were not afraid to stand up for themselves within a male-dominated society (IMDB). This short film depicts women in this manner due in large part to the mind and spirit of its female director, Jane Marsh, a Canadian woman with an effective understanding of the ever-changing roles of women in society during the war effort (Canadian Women Film Directors Database). These conditions were relevant to the director because she sought to convey an environment where women garnered respect and positive attention from males rather than to merely be observed as servants or mothers to their children (Canadian Women Film Directors Database). For Canadians, film was emerging during the war effort as an opportunity to develop new organizations to produce films in a manner that would lead to successful cinematic representations (Grierson, 1944). With Canadian films on the horizon, it was also important to convey the ideals of culture and a national respect and reverence towards Canada as portrayed in these films (Forsyth).
During her era, Jane Marsh was unique and revolutionary because she did not represent the typical female living in this period (TIFF). Rather, she served as a supporter of the war effort and sought to be on the front lines to depict the images and challenges of the war through her creativity and strengths as a filmmaker (TIFF). Therefore, her film represents a new era for women, whereby they could be active and unique contributors in a male-dominated society (TIFF). In this film, women are observed in an entirely new light, and this demonstrates her willingness to be brave in the face of adversity and to address the challenges of women so that they could demonstrate their own inner courage and strength within the war effort (TIFF).
The film’s depiction of women during World War II is also important because it conveys the director’s vision to show women in what might be considered as an unnatural state. Therefore, the film appears to shift the tide towards a more effective understanding of women as role models in the war effort and in positions of power, leadership, and authority. The images are powerful because they support the ever-changing role of women in society during an era where male domination was highly prevalent. In many ways, women working and participating in activities outside of the home was not common practice; therefore, it was difficult for women to have a true voice in society during a period where women were treated as second-class citizens. Jane Marsh recognized these weaknesses and made it possible for women to have a voice by showing them on film in roles where they could serve as leaders and with other important opportunities outside of the home. This was also an opportunity for Marsh to identify and strengthen her inner talents and to make a short film with true meaning and purpose. This film is well-recognized even today for its contributions to the female cause and its ability to support women heading in a new direction and with an entirely new focus.
Jane Marsh demonstrates her strengths as a filmmaker in a male-dominated world in Women Are Warriors, whereby she supports women in power and as true contributors to the war effort. During this era, many women were not successful in becoming known and recognized outside of the home environment; therefore, the film offered these women an opportunity to be active participants, even though they faced positions of significant danger and adversity. It is important to recognize that this early work of Jane Marsh was groundbreaking in many ways and supported the development of new approaches for women to take to make sense of their lives and of the roles that they played. This film demonstrates that it was time for women to have a voice of their own and to be recognized for their contributions to society in new and interesting ways so that they could garner respect and self-confidence outside of the home environment.
Canadian Women Film Directors Database. “Women are Warriors.” 30 September 2013: http://femfilm.ca/film_search.php?film=marsh-women&lang=e
Forsyth, S. The failures of Nationalism and documentary: Grierson and Gouzenko, 74-83.
Goetz, W. (2003). The Canadian wartime documentary: Canada Carries On and The World in Action. ProQuest Information and Learning Company, 59-80.
Grierson, J. (1944). Relations with the United States Film Industry. 83-89.
The Internet Movie Database. “Women are Warriors.” 30 September 2013: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0316901/
Jones, D.B. (1989). Tom Daly’s Apprenticeship. Film History, 3, 259-273.
National Film Board of Canada. “Women are Warriors.” 30 September 2013: http://www.nfb.ca/film/women_are_warriors
Toronto International Film Festival. “Jane Marsh Beveridge.” 30 September 2013: http://tiff.net/CANADIANFILMENCYCLOPEDIA/content/bios/jane-marsh-beveridge