The Medieval Hero on Screen

Representations from Beowulf to Buffy


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About the Book

Few figures have captured Hollywood’s and the public’s imagination as completely as have medieval heroes. Cast as chivalric knight, warrior princess, “alpha male in tights,” or an amalgamation, and as likely to appear in Hong Kong action flicks and spaghetti westerns as films set in the Middle Ages, the medieval hero on film serves many purposes. This collection of essays about the medieval hero on screen, contributed by scholars from a variety of disciplines, draws upon a wide range of movies and medieval texts. The essays are grouped into five sections, each with an introduction by the editors: an exploration of historic authenticity; heroic children and the lessons they convey to young viewers; medieval female heroes; the place of the hero’s weapon in pop culture; and teaching the medieval movie in the classroom. Thirty-two film stills illustrate the work, and each essay includes notes, a filmography, and a bibliography.

About the Author(s)

Martha W. Driver is distinguished professor of English and women’s and gender studies at Pace University.

Sid Ray is a professor of English and women’s and gender studies at Pace University.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Martha W. Driver and Sid Ray

Foreword by Jonathan Rosenbaum
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 276
Bibliographic Info: photos, notes, filmographies, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1926-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-2703-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi
Foreword      1
Preface: Hollywood Knights      5

Part I. What’s Accuracy Got to Do with It? Historicity and Authenticity in Medieval Film      19
Heroism and Alienation through Language in The Lord of the Rings      23
Authenticating Realism in Medieval Film      38

Part II. Kid Crusaders: Heroic Children on Film      53
Shirley Temple and the Guys and Dolls of the Round Table      57
Boys to Men: Medievalism and Masculinity in Star Wars and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial      73

Part III. Iron Maidens: Medieval Female Heroes on Film      91
Girls on Film: Medieval Virginity in the Cinema      94
Chivalric Virtues in Female Form: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s Wudan Warrior Princess as Medieval Hero      115
Not Your Typical Knight: The Emerging On-Screen Defender      133

Part IV. Time Bandits: Contemporary Appropriations      147
The Hagiography of Steel: The Hero’s Weapon and Its Place in Pop Culture      151
The Way of the Wizard: Reflections of Merlin on Film      167
Hard Day’s Knights: First Knight, A Knight’s Tale, and Black Knight      192

Part V. “Stond and Delyver”: Teaching the Medieval Movie      211
Oh, What a Lovely War! Joan of Arc on Screen      217
The Hero in the Classroom      237

Notes on Contributors      251
Index      255

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “compelling and insightful…carefully reasoned and well written…intelligent…well illustrated…excellent…highly recommended”—Choice
  • “impressive collection..thought-provoking and insightful…a welcome addition”—Arthuriana
  • “encapsulates the sense of lively enquiry and debate that makes this book worthwhile”—Journal of American Studies; “wonderful suggestions for teaching the medieval movie”—The Historical Novels Review