Strong “medieval” women on film

 

 

queens-beowulf

Alfred the Great (1969)

 

Depictions of female figures in epic and “dark ages” material in films have always fascinated me.

Probably due to the easy recurrence in these portrayals to well-known tropes of supposedly female behaviour, stereotypes that abound in modern film that are transposed to the uncertain historical context—whatever the middle ages may mean in that particular film for that particular adaptation—and that betray our own dispositions towards “strong” women—whatever that may mean in our own historical and cultural context. Modern expectations and anxieties can be projected unto the revisiting projection of formatting a new image that can then be used to justify and reiterate the existence of the very stereotypes that have been projected, never knowing exactly if it is a kind of re-feeding or if indeed we can juxtapose the same stereotypes in the historical context of the middle ages. My main concern are images of women as they can be used to perpetuate the role of passive victims, silent and angry women or soft motherly figures unable to go further than hollowed rethoric; and these explorations into the strong women prove problematic when patriarchal structures are juxtaposed (arguably, how can we not do it?) on these supposedly positive portrayals of female agency and power.

 

I have decided to start taking notes of such portrayals, probably as I will need them for my afterthoughts whenever I research on these type of portrayals for the Anglo-Saxon women (if the gods be willing to let me keep researching and writing even without any support, not exactly complaining, buuut) as I have in mind a project for such type of research.

This is just the very first notes for this, so expect a lot of typos and mistakes, rewordings and first impressions gone wrong. This is not a work of research in itself but of being aware of what anxieties are tickled (?) when watching the films.

 

By the way, if anyone is interested you can find my reseach on Zemeckis’s take on Beowulf (2007) in my academia.edu page. Forthcoming (hopefully!) another one taking the figures of Grendel’s mother in zemeckis’s and Modthryth in the poem for an exploration of gaze dynamics and femme fatale associations.

 

 

Biblio for Medieval in Film

Some of the books I’ve found so far, but nothing much on Beowulf (2007, 1999)…

Product Details

The Medieval Hero on Screen: Representations from Beowulf to Buffy by Martha W. Driver, Sid Rayand Jonathan Rosenbaum (1 Jul 2004)

Product Details

Queer Movie Medievalisms (Queer Interventions) by Kathleen Coyne Kelly and Tison Pugh (28 Jul 2009)

Race, Class, and Gender in “Medieval” Cinema (The New Middle Ages) Hardcover – 20 Apr 2007