Movies with Medieval SwordswomenI remember strongly how affected I was when Star Wars came out. Princess Leia didn't hide in the background, letting the men do the saving. She grabbed a gun and began shooting! That was very powerful for me. I watched the movie ten times in the theaters. Then in the 1980s came The Terminator. This told the story of an "every day woman" - one who wasn't butch, or "overly manly". She starts out almost feminine. Then, because she needs to protect herself and her son, she *becomes* strong. She finds that inner strength that lies within all of us. The way her lover protected her, and she him, was simply wonderful. It became yet another role model for me.
But both of these women were set in "future" times. They implied that no woman in real current (or past) life could take care of herself! If we look at movies of medieval times, women are weak and helpless - even though in real historical life, medieval women HAD to be tough to survive. They were not shrinking violets!
In the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood, we start with some encouraging scenes. Maid Marion is actively trying to help the poor, and when Robin comes in, she defends her home valiantly. One point for Marion! But while she's able to stay sassy, she turns into a helpless one as far as defending herself goes. When she is forced into marrying the Sheriff, all she can do is scream in panic and wait for Robin to swing in! Where did her knife-wielding talents go?
Now one movie which REALLY stands out to me is Conan the Barbarian. The woman in this movie - Valeria, played by Sandahl Bergman - is simply phenomenal. I've watched this movie I can't tell you how many times and even did a Conan Sword Work Video which connects together some of my favorite scenes to music. I realize this is fantasy, but Valeria was amazing. She did all of her own stunt work too, because they couldn't find a stunt woman to match her great body!
Unfortunately, in the next movie Grace Jones goes overboard and garnered a lot of negative press for being "too muscular". I think it did more harm than good for woman who enjoy swords.
Since about the end of 1980 we have MANY more female heroines who stand up for themselves in movies. The Matrix series stands out with Trinity being respected for her fighting skills.
It's funny, in the 80s if there was a woman in a fight she ALWAYS fought another woman. I forget which Bond movie had that happen, but that was the first I remembered where women could be active fighters. So at that point was OK to have a woman-on-woman furious fight, but a guy was never involved. It took until the 90s before it was even slightly OK for a man to fight a woman and have it be both "ok" and "realistic" (for her to have even a slight chance).
Medieval Swordswomen Movie Reviews
Medieval Romance Basics
Medieval Romance for Villagers
Medieval Romance for Nobles
Medieval Romance for Men
Medieval Romance for Women
Life in Medieval Days
Lisa's Medieval Romances
Seeking the Truth
A Sense of Duty
Online Literary Magazines
Lisa Shea's Homepage