Frida and the Role of Women During the 1930’s and 1940’s, women of the world held virtually one role and one role only…homemaker. This was no different for the women of Mexico, except for one woman in particular, Frida Kahlo. Frida refused to accept the current ideals of society and the accepted social norms by engaging in things that few women in history ever had. Frida was involved in politics, she was promiscuous with men and women, she painted pictures of herself in ways that had never been done before, and she wore the clothes of her indigenous people as opposed to the current fashions of the world.
The movie Frida showcases all of these qualities. The director, Julie Taymor, uses the symbolism of these things to show how Frida was not a typical woman of her era. Politics during the early 20th century was a man’s game. It was considered to be no place for women; it was “too complex and complicated”. However, Frida Kahlo did not agree with this stereotype, she inserted herself into the inner circles of high profile politicians from Mexico and around the world.
Frida associated herself with the Communist party and shared the views of other Communists such as Leon Trotsky, whom she and her husband, Diego Rivera, welcomed into their home when he was exiled from his home country of the Soviet Union. Communism was a very feared and frowned upon political view of the time period, yet Frida openly associated herself with it. Unlike most women of her time period, Frida immersed herself in politics and felt strongly about her points of view.
Frida’s involvement in politics is also displayed in the movie, especially during the scenes where Trotsky and his wife move in with Frida and Diego. Also shown in the movie is a scene where Frida is at a party with Diego and everyone is involved in a heated discussion about politics while sharing drinks. Frida immerses herself in the middle of the discussion and blatantly shares her opinions. Throughout the movie, she is not afraid to speak her mind regarding politics or anything else. Not only did Frida share her home with Trotsky, she also shared her bed with him.
Frida had an affair with Leon Trotsky while he was living in her home. Trotsky was only one of the many men and women with whom Frida had an affair with while she was married to Diego Rivera. In the movie, it is even hinted at that Frida had an affair with Diego’s ex-wife. During the roaring twenties and on into the 30’s and 40’s, sexuality and promiscuity were beginning to become more prevalent in society. This new breed of women was called Flappers (About. com). Even though these women were viewed as being promiscuous for their time period, some women like Frida, were viewed as a novelty in society.
Frida was far ahead of the times with her sexuality and once again, she did not care what was thought of her actions and how she was viewed by society. Director Taymor does and excellent job of portraying Frida as a promiscuous and sexually curious woman in the movie. There are countless times during the movie where Frida dances with a woman, kisses a woman, lays in a bed with a woman which was highly frowned upon in society during that time. Frida was a very skilled painter who did mainly self-portraits where she expressed her feelings and portrayed herself in unconventional ways.
Frida would take some of the events of her life and paint them. For example, Frida painted the auto accident she was in that left her with traumatizing pain, the miscarriages she suffered as a result of the accident, the heartbreak she felt from Diego’s affairs. This very well could have been a way that she coped with or dealt with the feelings she had due to Diego’s betrayals. She would paint herself in a way that expressed how painful and depressing the events of her life had been to her.
Frida’s artwork was very difficult to understand at the time, and it wasn’t until after her death that she really gained worldwide recognition for her talents (Biography. com). Frida was a unique person who was not afraid of expressing her emotions on and off the canvas. Taymor shows most of, if not all of the important and crucial events of Frida’s life. Taymor then shows Frida painting after the events and then shows the painting itself so the viewer can see how these events affected Frida and how she was a unique woman.
Another way that Frida was a unique woman was the fact that she did not dress herself in the fashions of times. Rather, she wore the colors and styles and designs of the indigenous people of Mexico. She wore dresses and scarfs in reds and yellows and other bright colors. In the movie during the wedding scenes, Frida does not wear a traditional white wedding dress that would signify purity and innocence, instead she wore a green dress with a red scarf to express that she was different.
Frida was born to a father of German descent and a mother of Spanish descent (Biography. com). She was proud of who she was and wasn’t afraid to dress in a way to pay respect of where she came from. In the movie, the character of Frida is almost always seen in these bright clothes and indigenous styles in an attempt to show how she was a woman who did what she wanted instead of just blending in with society. Frida Kahlo was born into a world where women were expected to bite their tongue, dress conservatively, and be the shadow to the husband who they served.
Frida however did not share these points of view; she wanted to be her own independent individual. The director of Frida, Julie Taymor, does an excellent job of using symbolism to portray Frida in a way the shows her to be the independent, self-serving woman that she was. Taymor depicts all the events in Frida’s life that sculptured her and moved her to engage in politics and exploring her sexuality. Taymor also makes sure that the character of Frida is always dressed in the indigenous styles and colors that Frida was most often seen in. This use of symbolism portrayed Frida’s life perfectly and allows the viewer to see Frida the way she would have wanted to be seen.
Bibliography “Flappers in the Roaring Twenties. ” About. com 20th Century History. N. p. , n. d. Web. 28Sept. 2012. <http://history1900s. about. com/od/1920s/a/flappers. htm>. “Frida Kahlo Biography. ” Bio. com. A&E Networks Television, n. d. Web. 28 Sept. 2012. <http://www. biography. com/people/frida-kahlo-9359496? page=1>. Frida. Dir. Julie Taymore. Perf. Salma Hayak and Geoffrey Rush. Miramax