Feminists will agree that no matter how hard the equalists try to push forward the idea of the world being a better place, inequality and injustice still exist in various forms. This oppression is regularly meted out by the inherently misogynistic and patriarchal society to people across the spectrum of gender and sexuality.
History documents the unfathomable struggle of women against both physical and emotional repression and subjugation. As well as their dauntless rebellion, Women have always been reduced to the idea that the patriarchal society has of them. Such a notion has led to the birth of various waves of feminism, much of which has helped shatter the prevalent gender stereotypes.
One of the major atrocities laid upon women in the past was witchcraft, where those alleged to be indulging in occult practices were burnt mercilessly. The idea of the witch has, since then, been explored by various forms of pop culture, including films, documentaries and other media. Time and again, the idea has been deconstructed by various forms of academic and non-academic discourse as the witch slowly became symbolic of feminist revenge. They exist as social transgressors who rise above the roles imposed on them.
Netflix has a wide variety of feminist films, of which some document the unhinged tale of feminist revenge. Here are five such films on Netflix that champion the idea of feminist revenge:
5 films on Netflix that champion feminist revenge
5. The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
Set during the Civil War, a young girl at a seminary finds an unconscious soldier who is taken into the school to help him recuperate. However, his manipulative presence leads to a spark in arousal as the ladies vie for his attention. However, as they discover his sinister nature, the beguiled women seek justice and action.
With her brilliant exploration of the female gaze embedded in Gothic horror, Coppola won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival, being the first-ever woman to win the award in five decades. With a brilliant ensemble, including Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst, the film has themes of jealousy and betrayal that loom large over the ominous and claustrophobic atmosphere.
4. Bulbul (Anvita Dutt Guptan, 2020)
Set in pre-independent Bengal, the film narrates the heartbreaking story of a child bride and her journey towards her marital home. A victim of physical and emotional abuse at various stages, she is the symbol of female oppression and the various trauma inflicted on the female body in an attempt to repress her. However, she soon fights back and becomes the epitome of the fabled witch who wreaks havoc on the village.
The eponymous Bulbul weaves the story of seduction, rape, violence, rage, and revenge within her life. With brilliant performances and lovely aesthetics, the film does absolute justice to the richness of Indian folklore and paints a story of a woman who finally avenges herself against her oppressor, subverting the general ideas of feminine roles.
3. The Witch (Robert Eggers, 2015)
Set in 1630s New England, a Puritan family is banished from their colony and compelled to relocate to a farm near a secluded forest. However, the family is soon haunted by supernatural forces and the power of a fabled witch who starts inflicting pain and trauma on the family, with a special focus on the eldest daughter, who bears the brunt of her family’s wrath.
An engrossing quest chronicling a family’s struggle with religion, faith and nature while combating supernatural evils, the film delves into the complexities of the human mind and emotions within the chaotic atmosphere. Anya Taylor-Joy plays Thomasin, the scorned protagonist who is jilted by her family and bogged down by patriarchal forces in the form of her father. She is a societal transgression who finally reclaims agency by rejecting Puritan beliefs and using her wanton sexuality to subvert the roles imposed on her.
2. Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976)
Adapted from Stephen King’s eponymous novel, De Palma’s masterpiece helped catapult Sissy Spacek into stardom. Spacek starred as the titular lead with telekinetic abilities. A person who was consistently abused emotionally by her orthodox mother, who was a religious fanatic. Bullied for menstruating in school, Carrie’s powers are unleashed through their oppression. She is a vision as she stands, drenched in pig’s blood, wreaking havoc on her bullies and avenging herself.
As Carrie’s unbridled powers are unleashed, it is indeed cathartic to see her telekinetic outbursts finally transcending years of physical and sexual repression by all, including her mother who made her believe that sexual intercourse is sinful. In her monstrous and scary form, Carrie becomes the symbol of ultimate feminist revenge as she reclaims the agency of her body and rises against prejudices and all those who stand in her path towards liberation.
1. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino, 2002)
Uma Thurman is Quentin Tarantino’s ultimate muse, as he borrows elements from all genres to create her character, the nuanced and dangerous femme fatale, The Bride. Not just all action, it is the Bride’s determination and thirst for revenge that makes her embark on a dauntless journey. Waking up from a coma after nearly four years, she seeks revenge on an ex who had murdered her husband, family and the rest of the wedding party before attempting to kill her.
Clad in her characteristic yellow jumpsuit and signature blonde hair, Thurman’s Bride goes down in history as one of the ultimate symbols of feminist rage and revenge. She is a blood-thirsty, scorned mother who seeks revenge for her unborn child and the compromise on her innocence. She is ferocious, unforgettable and phenomenal; Thurman’s brilliant execution of the character helps make The Bride’s odyssey even more exhilarating.