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The Redhead Queens of Cinema

Wizard of Oz

By Helena Madonna

Over the years, we've seen red become the hottest colour palette in hair, ever-evolving with infinite possibilities.

It's not a trend we'll see vanish but more of a permanent saturation and celebration of hair colour. In other words, it's here to stay and for a very good reason. Not only is it effortlessly striking in tone but bold and strong in nature. A colour that should be worn with pride and confidence, to be admired by onlookers.

In cinema, redheaded characters have never failed to allure and catch the eye of viewers with their unique and rare hue. They've long represented some powerful and undeniably strong figures, unfortunately at times with some distasteful misrepresentation and stereotypes. As an audience we've idolised, heavily crushed on and even attempted to resemble some of the following iconic ladies, both good and badd(ies).

Helena Madonna has compiled a list of her fav redheads, to be enjoyed for your reading pleasure or added to the watchlist for an Easter weekend binge fest.

The Fifth Element - Leeloo
The Fifth Element is one of the greatest goofy, apocalyptic films ever. It's a different flavour of sci-fi and at the time of its release was worlds apart from the others in its genre. Totally preposterous and reminiscent of 80's sci-fi Flash Gordon, it's not surprising to learn that director Luc Besson wrote the screenplay when he was just a teenager. But this only adds to the film's appeal and charm.

With Jean-Paul Gaultier leading the film's costume team, the designs had a vibrancy and sleekness to them, worlds apart from the gritty future aesthetic that was popular in sci-fi at the time. Leeloo fashions Gaultier's style beautifully, her stand-out look, a barely-there outfit of white bandages complete with her punk-esch, meticulously matted, orange bob.

One Million Years B.C - Loana
This British adventure fantasy film has it all. One Million Years B.C. is bursting at the seams with 60's style primitive vibes. Ones that are elevated by cave-man grunting in place of dialogue, dramatic orchestration and magnified real-life reptiles, along with stop-motion dinosaurs (an incredible achievement back in the day).

And if you're thinking this film lacks volume-induced blowouts and neatly trimmed bangs because it's set one million years B.C. - think again! The show is stolen by bunny fur bikini-baring babe, Raquel Welch. Even though the styling of her gorgeous strawberry mane is a far cry from period accuracy- it's still fabulous nonetheless.

Moulin Rouge! - Satine

Baz Luhrmann's 2001 jukebox musical Moulin Rouge! has a frantic, almost woodchipper-like pacing of quick
cuts, which in other films alike can be visually tiresome and rather exhausting. But this wasn't his first rodeo and for this film, he relished in this style of filmmaking.

In its fever dream-type way of unfolding, the story follows Christian, a young bohemian writer played by Ewan McGregor. He delves into the scene at an infamous, glamourous Parisian nightclub in 1899. There he meets enchanting dancer and courtesan Satine, also known as the legendary "Sparkling Diamond", a name fitting for her aura and stage presence. We the audience, like Christian and her countless visitors, have our hearts captured by Satine. Her all-consuming beauty is accentuated by her fabulous costumes and rich auburn waves.

Run Lola Run - Lola
German roller coaster ride Run Lola Run is a dazzling, cinematic shot of adrenaline. It throws us every trick in the book and throws logic out the window. The film's premise is pretty simple, Lola gets a call from her boyfriend Manni who has only gone and lost a bag containing 10,000 Deutsche marks, which a very bad guy expects to have by noon. She has 20 minutes to somehow find the money before Manni robs a bank.

As the name and premise suggest, this crisp thriller centres around a lot of running and I mean a lot. But toss in themes of the chaos theory with the butterfly effect and you have yourself a movie that goes beyond just a girl with flaming red hair, frantically sprinting to techno.

Thelma and Louise
Best known for his films in the sci-fi, crime and historical drama genres, Ridley Scott's Thelma and Louise is an unlikely but nonetheless, cult classic. A quintessential bestie flick about two carefree working-class women who take off on what was meant to be a fun fishing trip. But thanks to a late-night encounter with
an urban cowboy and all round, certified douchebag, things turn sour... and deadly. Using their '56 T-Bird as a getaway car, they embark on a road trip across the country, challenging the patriarchy and raising a little The Redheaded Queens of Cinema
hell along the way.

This film just wouldn't be as loveable without iconic duo, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, who deliver us plenty of badassery and heart-warming feels. Decked out in white cowboy boots and vintage tees complete with their fierce and increasingly wild red hair. A look that screams feminine but ready to spontaneously rob a convenience store.

The Favourite- Abigail
18th-century period piece, The Favourite is a unique one of its genre. With boundary-pushing and almost punk-like storytelling, it flips the genre on its head. If you're familiar with Yorgos Lanthimos' other works of art (such as Poor Things) this style of filmmaking won't come as a surprise. His way of world-building is delightfully bizarre and always undeniably clever with a touch of silliness. A high level of intention and detail can be seen in every aspect of this film, everywhere from the extremely wide
shots to the capture of its lonely characters in huge spaces right down to the flawless costuming. Period correct but with modern twists, like how the kitchen staff dresses were made with denim from old jeans.

Abigail is the story's beloved protagonist, played by Emma Stone. Like all else, her look had to be just right. Her hair colour took three goes to achieve. It's a muted, more golden nod to strawberry blonde with ember hues that are exaggerated in the candle-lit scenes- or in other words, a hairstylist's logistical nightmare.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit - Jessica Rabbit
What may sound like just another cartoon, Who Framed Roger Rabbit should be celebrated for more than that. It's an endless supply of goofy fun and shouldn't be a distraction from its clever and very plausible artistic chops. The story takes place in a convincing world blended with both real and animated characters, ones that cast real shadows and spit real water, a hard thing to pull off, especially in the 80's.

Although she's shy on screen time, one cartoon character steals the show- Jessica Rabbit. She encapsulates the ultimate siren and femme fatale archetype in cartoonish form, she's irresistible to both men and toons alike and she knows it (we love a confident, self-aware queen). Using her feminine assets as her not-so-secret weapon, she takes full advantage of the way she's been lusted over and fetishized by characters in the film. She's memorable and hard to miss with her crimson, curve-hugging gown and her flowing red hair, seductively falling over one eye- she's not bad, she's just drawn that way.

Boogie Nights - Maggie/ Amber Waves
Amidst the era of disco-funk, bell bottoms and anti-war protests, the 1970s was also home to the 'Golden Age of Porn'. The pleasure business was booming, gaining positive attention from mainstream cinemas and
aspiring amateur actors wanted in. 97s Boogie Nights is a period comedy-drama by one of my personal favourites, Paul Thomas Anderson. He highlights and humanises the ins and outs (no pun intended) of the adult industry in the 70's and does so, rather delicately and beautifully.

Many of the films have more heart-felt and touching sequences, all include Amber. A maternal and caring figure who oversees the younger talent on camera. She's the embodiment of 70's flare with her fabulous period-correct ensembles, metallic smoky eyes and auburn bouncy waves blown out to perfection.

The Wizard Of Oz - Dorothy
Undeniable classic The Wizard of Oz, since its release in 1939, has continued to deliver audiences unlimited amounts of nostalgia and cosiness. It captivated and melted the hearts of generations with its wackiness and universally relatable themes.

We first meet Dorothy at her sepia-filtered farm in Kansas, where she longs for adventure and toys with the fantasy of running away. Through a series of stormy events, she wakes up in the technicoloured world of Oz. A world that visually stunned viewers (but was quite literally life-threatening to its actors - worth a Google search). We're gleefully led on the journey down the yellow brick road with Dorothy in her ruby red slippers and iconic ruby red pigtails.

The Devil Wears Prada - Emily
The Devil Wears Prada is a star-studded, pop cultural time stamp of early 2000's fashion depiction in film. It showcases the highs and lows of the dream job that 'millions of girls would kill for'. We're thrust into the world of Runway Magazine when polyblend, 'lumpy blue sweater' wearing Andy meets glamour girl-boss, workaholic Emily. An overstretched first assistant whose devotion to her job is so strong, its worth starving
and literally (almost) dying for.

Along with fashion, there's an array of iconic hair looks throughout the film, everywhere from Miranda's perfectly quaffed silver do to Andy's very fitting '06 bang makeover, even down to Nigel's shiny dome paired with designer frames but Emily's deepened vibrant copper is especially eye-catching. Her character's hair hue was the perfect addition to charmingly clash her bold eye looks. From golds to emeralds to purple smoky eyes, there was never a dull visual moment with Emily. That's all.

Mean Girls - Cady
From a dusty pit of early 2000s silly teen movies emerged one that challenged and outwit all of the others, enter the iconic, Mean Girls: an essential re-watch owed to our teen years.

At the height of her career, was Lindsay Lohan, the Queen Bee of our big screens of that era. Her role had a prominent story arc, not only in characteristics but also in hairstyles. When we first meet Cady, her hair is mostly up in a simple pony but as she’s swept up into a sea of millennial pink and peer pressure, her hair becomes bigger and bouncier - “it’s full of secrets”.

Charlie’s Angels - Dylan
For those who haven’t treated themselves to the sugar-infused action comedy that is Charlie’s Angels, allow me to provide a lazy summary. It's peak 2000 cinema, and a series of music videos loosely bound together by a plot that seems almost irrelevant when you’re heavily engrossed, almost hypnotised by the copious amounts of hair flipping, Michael Bay-level explosions, ridiculous wire-work kung fu and not to mention, redhead icon, Drew Barrymore licking a steering wheel.

Batman and Robin - Poison Ivy
Before the cinematic world of Batman entered its dark and moody era, it was fun, cheesy and at times completely bonkers. In the hands of Joel Schumacher, Batman and Robin, was intentionally camp and lacked the seriousness all the others had. In the crayon-coloured world he'd created, the villains were
the stars when it came to costuming.

The most memorable (in my opinion) was Uma Thurman in her iconic role of botanist, biochemist baddie - Poison Ivy. Like the film aesthetic, her whole look had a comic-book resemblance. Leafy bushy eyebrows, a green catsuit with matching leather gloves and boots and her commanding crimson red hair.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - Clementine
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a heartbreaking but beautiful watch. It’s a story of the turbulent relationship between Joel and Clementine told through a series of fragmented memories.

The constant colour change of Clementine's hair is a visual timeline for the audience but also a representation of the status of her relationship with Joel. Like any other romance film, there’s a ‘meet cute’.

They introduce themselves and Clementine begins talking about her frequent change in hair colour, giving them all their introduction, “I apply my personality in a paste" she says. Clementine's hair is a vibrant red during the happier days of their relationship and orange when their passion begins to dwindle, like a fading version of red. When it comes to hair colour, red can be assertive and in this film, it's a character in itself.

Nocturnal Animals - Amy Adams & Isla Fisher
Nocturnal Animals is far from a feel-good film, in fact, the feeling its meant to provoke, is the exact opposite. It’s a nightmarish tale of terror and misery, an intricate balance of three narrative threads; one based in reality, one in fiction and another in the past.

Amy Adams and Isla Fisher, arguably some of the most recognisable redheads in Hollywood today, play the same character - well, kinda. It's in a sort of metaphorical, complicated way that I won't spoil.

The Breakfast Club - Claire Standish
Perhaps the greatest teen stereotypes on screen, The Breakfast Club is cinema's ultimate brat pack, in all its 80s glory. Following five high school students in Saturday detention, they discover they have much more in common than they thought.

If The Breakfast Club is a pop culture heirloom then Molly Ringwald as Claire Standish is the film's ultimate gift.
Dressed head-to-toe in a Ralph Lauren pink and brown ensemble, worn with brown equestrian boots and leather belt/jacket - a look that heavily features on mood boards, decades since the movie's release. While her auburn bangs and short voluminous hair added to her "most popular girl in school" vibe.

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