The Modern Amazons : Warrior Women on Screen

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Press:Hal Leonard Corp Limelight Editions (March 1, 2006)
Publication Date:2006-3
Author Name:Mainon, Dominique/ Ursini, James


The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women on Screen documents the public's seemingly insatiable fascination with the warrior woman archetype in film and on television.
The book examines the cautious beginnings of new roles for women in the late fifties, the rapid development of female action leads during the burgeoning second-wave feminist movement in the late sixties and seventies, and the present-day onslaught of female action characters now leaping from page to screen.
The book itself is organized into chapters that group women warriors into sub-genres, e.g., classic Amazons like Xena Warrior Princess and the women of the Conan films; superheroes and their archenemies such as Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Catwoman; revenge films such as the Kill Bill movies; Sexploitation and Blaxploitation films such as Coffy and the Ilsa trilogy; Hong Kong cinema and warriors like Angela Mao, Cynthia Rothrock, and Zhang Ziyi; sci-fi warriors from Star Trek, Blade Runner, and Star Wars; supersleuths and spies like the Avengers and Charlie's Angels; and gothic warriors such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Kate Beckinsale in Underworld and Van Helsing.
In addition, the book is lavishly illustrated with over 400 photos of these popular-culture icons in action, interesting articles and sidebars about themes, trends, weapons, style, and trivia, as well as a complete filmography of more than 150 titles.


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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     This is really a fun book to look through...lots of photos and interesting history on the development of 'power girls' in TV and film.
  •     Co-authored and compiled by Hollywood film experts Dominique Mainon and James Ursini, The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screen is a profusely illustrated compendium of the actresses and the roles they played as fighters, warriors, and combatants in the past fifty years of filmmaking. Ranging from iconic image of Raquel Welch in the prehistoric adventure fantasy "One Million Years BC"; to Pam Grier as the first African-American woman in such films as "Coffy", "Foxy Brown", and "Sheba, Baby"; to Lucy Lawless' six-season portrayal of "Xena: Warrior Princess"; to Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft in two "Tomb Raider" movies; to Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in the sci-fi "Alien" adventures, to the women who have played vampire slayers, superheroes (and villains), as well as assorted television, cartoon, comics, and video game fighter characters in the various movie action/adventure genres. The Modern Amazons is a welcome and enthusiastically recommended addition to personal, film school, and community library Film Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.
  •     The image of the warrior women has been a staple of the movies almost from the beginning. Scantly clad, or perhaps in a skin tight suit, these women have fought the bad guys (or...
  •     What this fun, engaging book lacks in depth, it makes up for in breadth. I did not find this especially helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of the changing roles that strong female characters have been playing in popular culture in the past several decades, but no book I know can match it for its range and scope. I've done a great deal of reading about women in the movies and on TV, but this books goes way beyond that to show how women have appeared in a vast array of media during recent years. I give the book 4 stars instead of less simply because it provides an incredible services by calling attention to strong women in a number of areas that have been neglected in previous surveys. Nonetheless, I think the book can at best serve as a jumping off point for further work. But by helping map out the areas where strong women can be discerned is an invaluable service. It was very close to being a near complete cataloging of the most important female figures in popular media. There were a few minor omissions, but as far as I can tell only one major one: the inexplicable failure to mention FARSCAPE, the show above all others that not only features multiple strong female characters but places these in a non-patriarchal universe. No show I know engages gender issues so interestingly and few female characters on TV are as pertinent to the authors' discussion as Claudia Black's character Aeryn Sun.This is also one of the more lavishly illustrated books that you can ever hope to own. There are photos on nearly every page of the book, many of them full page.There are, however, a number of problems with the book. First, the sheer breadth means that nothing can be discussed in much depth. I was ecstatic when the authors bring up Third Wave Feminism (many TV critics look at shows like BUFFY or DARK ANGEL and describe them as post-feminist, when in fact they are better understood in the light of the Third Wave), but not much more than that is done with it. Still, kudos for bringing that up at all! More troubling is the utter lack of critical distinction in bringing up all the various "Amazons." The brute fact is that many of the shows and movies mentioned are just flat out awful. CHARMED is discussed as well as BUFFY, with no indication that CHARMED is critically reviled while BUFFY is by consensus one of the masterpieces of television. BLADE: TRINITY, ELEKTRA, and CATWOMAN are mixed in with THELMA AND LOUISE and BLADE RUNNER, with no mention that the first three were universally trashed. There is a long discussion of Linda Carter's turn as WONDER WOMAN, but no mention that 1) the show is bad and 2) Wonder Woman on the show is distressingly subservient to men and spends most of her time trying to make her boss look good. I can fully understand a discussion of Xena in a book like this, but there is no acknowledgment that the show has always been a cult favorite, but has been universally considered a not very good show, while she doesn't by contrast bring up the enormous critical acclaim of BUFFY, ALIAS, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.Finally, there is that term "Amazon." The book wants to celebrate the various warrior women in popular culture, but roping the majority of the women into that category is a bit of a stretch. I absolutely love Emma Peel in THE AVENGERS, but I have a lot of trouble viewing her under either the category of a warrior woman or an Amazon. A very strong female character? Absolutely. But I think the book stretches conceptual categories a bit more broadly than is advisable.Nonetheless, I definitely recommend the book. The panoramic scope outweighs weaknesses. At the very least it has mapped out the terrain to be explored in any discovery of strong female characters in popular culture.
  •     Very well researched and documented. A Very good read
  •     After briefly citing some references to women warriors in ancient mythology and history, the authors with broad backgrounds in film studies and popular culture note their book does not speculate "about the possible existence of Amazon women in the past, but rather document[s] the proliferation of the warrior woman archetype in popular culture, film and television in particular." An encyclopedic filmography and another back section on women warrior movies and television series records the varieties of this proliferation. Used loosely, the term woman warrior encompasses not only women warriors like men soldiers, but also women detectives, science-fiction characters, prehistoric humans, cowgirls, spies, martial arts experts, athletes (e. g., "Million Dollar Baby"), and more or less ordinary women who at moments accomplish extraordinary feats such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though such extraordinary women characters transgressing the conventional image of women can be found in films from its beginning in the early 1900s, the overwhelming majority are from the post-WWII years with the numbers of films increasing exponentially in recent years as gender roles have weakened and popular interest in the potentials for women has grown. The approach is to classify the categories of "warrior women" and discuss the women characters and the films or TV shows in each category. Like the term "warrior women" itself, the categories are loose. But the aim is not strict definition, rather recognition of the expansion and diversity of this genre involving unconventional, in many cases quite imaginative women characters. Photographs on almost every page picture the women in their various costumes or engaged in their exploits.
  •     This is good for people who have a casual interest in women in action media, or are just starting to get an interest in feminist film studies.There are lots of big pictures and plot summaries of just about any movie or TV program with a strong, insubordinate female character. There is less analysis about the characters and stories in the overall big picture of feminist films.There is a bibliography, but few sources are cited within the text; the casual reader to whom this is aimed may not care, but academics should.A more academic, but less broad, book on the same topic is Rikke Schubart's "Super Bitches and Action Babes;" the theories she applies to some of her subjects can be applied easily to others. The two books compliment each other well.

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