For the 2.5 of you who read this blog, you may remember one of my primary gripes about last year’s Robin Hood had to do with the portrayal of Maid Marian as a warrior. For a film whose premise and production was built on historical accuracy, watching the 140-pound Lady Marian swing a broadsword with the best of them seemed….well….dumb. I went into a little more detail on my list of Top Seven Film Pet Peeves, (posted 11-23-2010):
There are many times when women are very influential characters, but screen writers seem to think that we can’t think of them as strong women unless they chop people’s heads off too. Another great example was Eowyn in Lord of the Rings…we can’t actually think of her as being strong unless she’s stabbing the bad guy in the face. There is more to strength than swinging a sword, but don’t tell Hollywood writers that.
But I saw something a couple days ago that made me reevaluate my position somewhat. I watched a History Channel special exploring life in England in the years immediately following the crusades through the lens of the Robin Hood myth. As you would expect, one of the subjects they touched on was Maid Marian. She was actually a relatively late addition to the story, and her role has been subject to change, usually reflecting social perceptions at the time.
For instance, in the 16th and 17th centuries in Victorian England, Marian was portrayed as something of a floozy, a sexually indiscriminate lush who was actually more involved with Friar Tuck than Robin. This reflected the incredibly negative social opinions against women that were prevalent at the time. In the 19th century, her role in the tale became much more dignified, and she became a love interest to Robin, reflecting the more romantic nature of literature at the time. She even became a capable archer in the latter part of the 19th century, leading into the feminist movement of the early 20th century.
So how then is she to be portrayed in our post-feminist movement 21st century society? Since her role changes so much, I guess it follows logically for her to be shown as a fighter, thereby reflecting our social perception of women being equal and capable in every way possible, (even if women are usually not nearly as capable warriors as men are).
Granted, Marian as a warrior is still extremely improbable historically speaking, knowing now what I do about her role in the Robin Hood myth, I can be a little more forgiving of such a portrayal.
For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-Man.