I have shared before that I am a big time movie lover. I worked at a movie theater for years just to get all the free movies I could handle and I REALLY used that perk. I like action and adventure personally. I grew up with The Dukes of Hazard and Wonder Woman re-runs as well as shows like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. My mom instilled in me a love of movies with strong female characters too. As a tween/teen I was a HUGE fan of Ellen Ripley of the Aliens franchise. To this day I still love movies with women who are strong and capable. Sadly there are’t a whole lot of movies that depict strong and capable young women and teens but there is one that meant a lot to me when I was that age. As an added bonus the heroine is also very into environmental issues and human and animal rights. I just rewatched it this week. LOVE!
The movie is A Far Off Place and it stars teenage Reese Witherspoon and Ethan Embry. Reese plays Nonnie who lives in Africa with her family. Her father is the gamekeeper for the area and he tries to peacefully resolve the poaching crisis facing the area through legal channels. He has shored up the borders and the ivory trade has been blocked, making the wrong people very angry. Nonnie is wanting to take mattes into her own hands though because while trade has stopped, the killing has not. She has found a hero and mentor who is actually out stopping the poachers in their tracks and bringing them to justice the old fashioned way…at the end of a shotgun barrel. They disagree about how best to resolve the issue but they have some things in common…a love of Africa and a love for the wildlife there. The movie hosts some gruesome opening scenes of poachers mowing down beautiful elephants and then using chainsaws to remove the tusks from their corpses.
Harry is a New York City kid who is visiting their home with his father and he is quite bored with the country. In one scene he is asking what fun there is to be had in Africa, just as herd of giraffes are trotting by. Perhaps because he is looking for something to do he follows Nonnie as he sees her sneaking out into the bush at night. They come across Nonnie’s bush friend Xhabbo who has been injured. The teens help him to a nearby cave and treat his wounds. Nonnie gathers local plants to heal him (gotta love that). Xhabbo asks them to stay with him in the cave overnight and they do. While they are sleeping a group of poachers attack Nonnie’s home and kill everyone there, including the parents of both teens.
Their devastation over the loss though must wait because they overhear that the poachers want to finish them off as well, since they cannot be sure how much they know. Having no means of transportation, all three of these young folks set off on a 2000 kilometer trek across the Kalahari desert. That is like walking from New York to Miami and in very dangerous country. Together they fight for survival every day, hunting, foraging for food and water, and trying to throw off poachers who are hot on their trail.
As far as strong and capable heroines go you cannot beat Nonnie. She is a lovely girl who cares about truly important issues and she is seeking to make a difference in the world, even at her young age. I was a complete Nonnie fan as a teen myself and even named my dog after hers, Hintza.
I highly recommend this movie for families and especially for teens and tweens. It is kind of graphic (even though it is a Disney movie) but I think that makes it more realistic. I also recommend the book it is based upon. Enjoy!