Source: Roman Holiday. Directed by William Wyler. Performed by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. Accessed November 23, 2016.
In 1953, the film Roman Holiday, starring film and fashion icon Audrey Hepburn, was released. Audrey Hepburn plays a sheltered princess who is touring European cities and holding diplomatic press conferences. She embodies all the qualities of an ideal 1950s woman: she’s submissive and follows the orders of her superiors; she adheres to all the societal rules for behavior; and she does the job effortlessly, always with a smile on her face. During her tour, however, she comes so overburdened with the expectations of being a member of royalty that she has a nervous breakdown. She becomes so hysterical that her mistress calls for a doctor, for a proper lady should always remain calm and collected. That night, Hepburn’s character decides to sneak out of her room so she can enjoy just a few hours of freedom.
In the course of her adventure, she meets Gregory Peck’s character, a member of the American press. Realizing she’s a princess, he takes her in and offers to escort her on her day off in the city. Hepburn character is quite naïve and childlike as she incorrectly drives a scooter through the streets and sidewalk, and falls prey to Peck’s harmless little pranks. The underlying message of these scenes is that a woman needs a man to orient her in the world; she could never make it on her own. In a later scene, Hepburn and Peck are back at his apartment after a long day, and Hepburn begins to apologize for not being able to fix them a proper dinner. She then goes on to describe her other domestic skills, such as cleaning. Even in someone else’s a home, she felt guilty for not being able to fulfill her feminine role.
One theme from this movie is that women need men to be truly happy, similar to the theme from Tyler Perry’s movies that marriage solves women’s problems. Before connecting with Peck’s character, the princess was wandering around Rome aimlessly. It was only until they started the day together that Hepburn’s character was able to truly enjoy her adventure; she needed a man by her side. Despite their experience together, at the end of the movie Hepburn decides to return to her home and to her duties. This illustrates another theme from the movie: women must be true to their responsibilities, including, one could assume, motherly responsibilities.