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Firefly - "Serenity" Movie connects with duality of women’s lives - Spoilers

Thursday 29 September 2005, by Webmaster

Movie connects with duality of women’s lives

Five hundred years in the future, women know how to handle themselves in a fight, have taken greater charge of their sexuality and are valued for their intuitive abilities in ways that they are not today. At least that’s the picture painted in a new sci-fi film, "Serenity" (scheduled for release at the end of the month).

The star of the show, Nathan Fillion, plays Mal, a hardened veteran of an intergalactic war, but it is the women around him who define what life is really about.

There’s gruff-and-ready Zoe (Gina Torres), a career soldier who goes into battle without hesitation; Inara (Morena Baccarin), a beautiful courtesan who has an intense relationship with Mal; and River (Summer Glau), an unstable psychic.

"What’s true about River and every woman is that each of us has a duality," Glau says. "River is the most delicate, helpless and most damaged character in the movie, yet, in the end, she’s the most courageous and is able to rescue the people she loves. Women just have an instinct to nurture and protect the people most precious to them."

Glau says her character, who is a teenager, is a positive role model for girls who may feel awkward, sad and lonely.

"The message is that there are no limits to what you can do," says Glau, who studied to become a ballerina as a child until an injury forced her to stop dancing. She says she lost her sense of identity and had to force herself to find another passion in life. That passion became acting.

"I’m happier acting now than I ever was dancing," Glau says. "In ballet, you learn the exact steps and try to do them perfectly. Acting has no perfect scenes. You have to let your emotions out and bring all the things that are special about you into a scene. I realized I didn’t have to be the perfect pair of legs anymore. I just had to be honest."

This, after all, is the secret to succeeding at any endeavor and in any relationship. It is when we stop trying to be perfect imitations of others and perfectly at home with who we are that the best in us emerges.

When it comes to being at home with one’s self, Baccarin plays an accomplished geisha in a future where prostitution has become legal. Her character Inara is an intelligent, sensuous woman schooled in everything from fencing and diplomacy to the art of the tea ceremony.

"Mal thinks her profession is wrong, and Inara thinks he has no right to judge her," Baccarin says. "They have a great love for each other, but it doesn’t get resolved." Much like relationships between men and women today.

"As the world is moving and changing, sometimes I feel men are becoming emasculated as women take power," Baccarin says. "I don’t think both need to do everything. I think there is imperfection in a perfect relationship. If there are conflicts or battles about things that matter, they further the relationship."

Sexuality in this future is accepted as a beautiful connection between two people but is not seen as the duty of a companion like Inara, who chooses the men she accepts as clients. Instead, what is emphasized is the whole self and the ability to learn new things.

Like Glau’s character, Inara also conveys the message that women can be anything they want.

"I’ve learned from my character to have a positive joy toward life," Baccarin says. "There may be pain and uncertainty in life, but she has a joy that comes from loving what she does."

Dinah Eng is a freelance writer. She can be reached at