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Film Analysis

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The Hollywood movie Pretty Woman (1990) is about a prostitute in Hollywood, marrying an extremely rich businessman, in spite of her mutual distrust and prejudice. The movie contains the basic narrative of the Cinderella tale: through the love and help of a man of a higher social position, a girl of a lower social status moves up to join the man at his level.

Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) in Pretty Woman comes from a small town in Georgia, and works as a prostitute on the streets of Hollywood to support herself. Although Vivian's social position is very low, she has a strong sense of personal dignity and independence. Even though sometimes she have to stand by the street with empty stomach to wait for clients, Vivian and her friend Kit still keep themselves from the control of pimps, and "act as their own agents". Later, at the end of Vivian's one-week business arrangement with wealthy Edward Lewis (the Prince to her dream), which culminates in love and growing mutual respect, he offers her an apartment, a car and a credit card to get her off the streets, but she refuses. For Vivian, however, this arrangement is only different in terms of "geography" and terms of payment for the "business"; between them.

Vivian knows that in society her own effort is the key to supporting herself and eventually securing a better future. She wants to set up a life in the city and tries very hard to look for a job. Due to lack of a skill, although she is willing to do heavy or dirty work, she is not able to find a job with enough pay to support herself. Her goal in life is simply to support herself by her own effort instead of letting somebody else arrange and control her life. This, in it self, represents a spirit of active effort for someone like Vivian. In addition to her efforts in trying to support herself and realize her own goals, Vivian also endeavors to help others. With a part of the $3000 windfall she earns from her week with Edward Lewis, she presses her friend Kit to pursue her long-dormant desire to become a beautician. And her most significant achievement is helping Edward Lewis, the corporate raider, rediscover his humanity, so he can build things instead of dismantling the work of others for profit, and find a more meaningful life other than locking himself in work. The two aspects discussed above display the changes of emphasis on self-reliance and individual effort.

In the movie Vivian have kept and even reinforced and improved her individual identity and equal position as a worthy life companion and/or a respectable career partner, in the process of her love-relationship development.

The movie gives the message that women must do acknowledge their responsibilities towards themselves, which can and should never be neglected or postponed for the sake of anyone or anything. Nothing in this world is worth sacrificing your own aspirations for. A person's greatest assets are self-respect, dignity and individuality. Woman should safeguard her identity by not letting her individuality get submerged and by keeping her priorities intact all her life and creating a place for herself.

I think that the movie keeps the gender role stereotyping unchanged. It reflects certain conservative trends of the decade during which it was made, the influence of feminist ideology as well as some commonly recognized American values, for example, individualism and self-reliance. Even if this movie is produced by male filmmakers in the conservative Reagan era the profound influence of feminist ideology can be traced in most of the following issues.

1. Work Opportunity

In the movie Pretty Woman, which is not set in a conventional work place, we can still find working women everywhere: in the hotel, in the stores, and in offices

2. The Sisterhood

Movie shows the betrayal or unfavorable depiction of the sisterhood, an important concept in feminist ideology, emphasizing that women are bound in a communal oneness. The movie mentions in an early party scene that one of Edward's former girlfriends, though estranged from him, and has developed a strong friendship with his secretary, the secretary eventually serving as her maid of honor. These provide a convincing view of good sistership existing in the movie Pretty Woman.

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