Monday, November 12, 2012


Sally Potter’s Ginger & Rosa is an emotionally shattering film about how the sexual and political environment of the 1960s affects the lives of two teenage girls living in London.  Ginger (Elle Fanning) is introspective and quiet, and has a pessimistic view of the world, while her best friend Rosa (Alice Englert) is outgoing and adventurous, and views the world as full of possibilities.  The sometimes reckless abandonment of Rosa, who embodies the “free love” and sexual liberation ethos of the 1960s youth generation, attracts Ginger, despite her innate timidity. 

Ginger & Rosa

In fact, Ginger is more like her mother Natalie (Christina Hendricks), who is more reserved and at times obsessively anxious, while Rosa’s bold and temerarious personality is similar to Ginger’s father Roland (Alessandro Nivola), an anarchist whose brash behavior oftentimes leads to trouble.  Both Rosa and Roland fully embrace the more open-minded sexual mores of the 1960s counter-culture movement, as they casually engage in indiscriminate sex with multiple partners.

The main event of this era that informs every scene in Ginger & Rosa is the threat of nuclear annihilation.  As the film begins, we discover that Ginger and Rosa were born at the exact same moment in 1945 when the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  This event haunts Ginger when she becomes a teenager, and she spends her days and nights obsessively worrying about the end of the world as a result of a nuclear war. 

Indeed, the central concern of Ginger & Rosa is of an era, specifically the 1960s, coming to an end.  For Ginger, this end is a literal end brought about by a nuclear war.  However, on a more symbolic level, Sally Potter is exploring how the “free love” movement of the 1960s, when sexual partners were freely exchanged without consideration of emotional attachment or familial concerns, came to an end. 

Ginger and Rosa: watch an exclusive trailer - video

The constant switching of sexual partners by both Rosa and Roland leads to the eventual destruction of their respective family units.  Rosa sleeps around to compensate for the lack of a real father figure in her life, leading to her mother falling deep into despair.  Roland sleeps with multiple women to the detriment of his wife and daughter, who are fully aware of his behavior. 

It is no coincidence that nuclear war is a central theme in Ginger & Rosa, an obvious allusion to the concept of the nuclear family which was formulated in the 1950s.  During the 1950s, the ideal nuclear family was based on the heterosexual couple of the mother and the father, along with the son and/or daughter.  This central unit had to fend for itself without the help of any outside support. 

Ginger & Rosa explores how this idea of the nuclear family came into direct conflict with the changing mores of the 1960s, as revealed by the characters of Rosa and Roland and their attempts to reshape the nuclear family.


Just as a nuclear bomb could destroy the whole world, Sally Potter reveals how the outdated concept of the nuclear family was broken apart and changed during the 1960s.  

This is also revealed with her introduction of a homosexual couple in the film, played by Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt, who form a sort of alternate nuclear family to Ginger’s heterosexual mother and father.

Ultimately, Ginger & Rosa, with its cast of anarchists, free-thinkers, sexually liberated men and women, and gay couples, is Sally Potter’s attempt to reconfigure the idea of the nuclear family into something more inclusive, open-minded, and more fitting to the ever-changing modern world.


No comments:

Post a Comment