I've got a bow and arrow, and I intend to use them

"Prince Caspian" director Andrew Adamson lets his female characters fight alongside the boys.

Published May 29, 2008 8:11PM (EDT)

I'm a little in love with Andrew Adamson, director of "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," for this comment on the '50s-style gender roles in the C.S. Lewis books the Narnia films are based on:

"I had a big problem with Father Christmas giving Susan the bow and arrow and saying 'I don't intend you to use them.' I was kind of like, all she does in the first book is make sandwiches, and in that case give her a plate and a knife."

Because of Adamson's distaste for the way the main female characters were originally written, in his new movie, Susan and her sister Lucy fight alongside the boys instead of just waiting around for them. Says Adamson, who has two young daughters and is partly responsible for the sorta kinda feminist Princess Fiona of the "Shrek" movies: "There's no way I was going to set a role model for my girls that was like, 'you go and do the dishes honey.'" Awesome.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but it certainly sounds to me like this is the rare case in which tampering with the source material might actually make the movie better than the book. Unfortunately, according to our own Stephanie Zacharek, that's not the only tampering Adamson did: "Prince Caspian," she writes, suffers from too much CGI and raw adrenaline, too little human emotion. All of the human characters, male and female alike, "come off as afterthoughts, figures that are moved around clumsily in the thicket of the movie's sprawling narrative."

I'm sure Adamson was sincere in his desire to create strong role models for little girls, but it seems he might have been more concerned with creating over-the-top battle scenes for the big and little boys in the audience. (Before anyone says it, no, I don't think battle scenes can only be enjoyed by Y chromosome owners. I love action movies, even when they pain my feminist heart, which they nearly always do. But strictly in terms of movie marketing, armies and swords and things that go boom are for boys.) Two steps forward, one step back, I guess. Still, kudos to Adamson for giving Susan and Lucy more than dinner knives to work with. At least his shortchanging of the human characters was equal opportunity.

By Kate Harding

Kate Harding is the author of Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do About It, available from Da Capo Press in August 2015. Previously, she collaborated with Anna Holmes, Amanda Hess, and a cast of thousands on The Book of Jezebel, and with Marianne Kirby on Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere. You might also remember her as the founding editor of Shapely Prose (2007-2010). Kate's essays have appeared in the anthologies Madonna & Me, Yes Means Yes, Feed Me, and Airmail: Women of Letters. She holds an M.F.A. in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a B.A. in English from University of Toronto, and is currently at work on a Ph.D. in creative writing from Bath Spa University

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