History proves again and again that those who have rebellious personality and courage to stand up against injustice are not welcome in our world. Truth is one of those tools that is sadly misused too often. Finally, a woman who dares to walk ahead of time will be taken down by those who see her as a threat. They fear even her innocent and harmless actions. “Woman Walks Ahead” touches one painful story that took place in the USA in the nineteenth century. This can never be erased from the pages of history. It tells about Catherine Weldon – a famous painter who has to revisit her views due to witnessing the violent actions by imperious government forces.
Set in the 1880s, Catherine Weldon is a young widow. It’s been a year since she has lost her husband and has been struggling to bury the deep grief in her heart. She leaves her cozy and comfortable home in New York for Omaha, North Dakota to paint a portrait of Chief Sitting Bull. Her arrival does not make happy the Colonel Solar Grove and the Commanding Officer who order her to leave the town by the first train next morning. However, Catherine has powerful connections in Washington D.C. She is a stubborn and uncompromising woman, thus, goes ahead and disobeys the order. She closes the deal with Rico, paying one thousand dollars for his portrait.
Soon, the friendship between them grows stronger, as they begin to share the beautiful connection they have found with each other. She quickly becomes a valuable person in the tribe. Rico tells Catherine something that must be branded in every human mind. He says: “In your society people are valued by how much you have, while in our, people are valued by how much they give away.” Even though he is right, when Catherine is brutally beaten up in the town, it appears that her wealth has no value after all. There is something greater than money – the fear to lose the power and the influence in a little town over the native people.
Based on true events, “Woman Walks Ahead” is written by Steven Knight and directed by Susanna White. This is a heartbreaking portrayal that reminds us of what our society looked like in the past and how we’ve failed to change much. Whether you are from the West or East, or simply any corner of planet Earth, it is important to know the history no matter how harsh it is. We must educate ourselves to be able to bring positive change. The past cannot be changed but the future is determined by our actions. Catherine Weldon is not afraid to be kind and merciful where the others fail. No power can stop her when she demands justice. This is a great lesson to be taught to the younger generation. At least, we owe them, to tell the truth about the darkest sides of our history.
A few words about the cast. As always, Jessica Chastain has chosen a project with an important subject matter. Sam Rockwell and Michael Greyeyes are outstanding in capturing the two sides of humanity which we surely know about. In the end, it’s a solid period drama worth to be seen by everyone who likes good but harsh storytelling. One can take away much from Susanna White’s film, it provokes many thoughts, especially when it comes to realizing that old-fashioned ways have failed to turn our world into a better place. We should come up with new ones, is that not right?