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Well, it’s that time again: 80s family film funtime! Today we are looking at 1988’s Willow, starring Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer, directed by Ron Howard with a story by George Lucas. But first, let’s set the scene.
It is a time of dread. Seers have foretold the birth of a child who will bring about the downfall of the powerful Queen Bavmorda. Seizing all pregnant women in the realm, the evil Queen vows to destroy the child when it is born.Prologue, Willow
Whatever you think of this film, it is undoubtedly full of feminist commentary, a subversion of popular fantasy tropes and an exploration of what it means to be a chosen one. We look at the matriarchal power structure of Willow’s world, female violence, bad mothers, and whether the titular character’s story is a coming of age tale or a midlife crisis…
Mentioned in this episode:
- The Princess Bride
- The Dark Crystal
- Treasure Island
- Star Wars
- The Last Unicorn
- The Neverending Story
- Strange Magic (George Lucas)
- The Belgariad by David Eddings
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien
- The Vagrant by Peter Newman
- The Spellslinger series by Sebastien de Castell
- Othello by William Shakespeare
- Willow: Subliminal Feminist Masterpiece
Hi guys! I absolutely love your podcast! I’ve been listening to it for a few years now and have found it so wonderfully thought provoking! I actually went off and watched willow for the first time today after listening to you podcast on it.
Thinking on the 80s. I wanted to suggest a subject for a possible podcast…. She-Ra. There has been a brand new series brought out on Netflix and created by Noelle Stevenson. And it is right up your alley. It is honestly a feminist marvel! So so ahead of it’s time across all equality. Even featuring cartoon women with different body types.
Anyways would love to hear you guys chat about it!
Absolutely love She-Ra though trying to get all of us to commit to watching a whole series can be tricky.
My friend Steph of the Sisters of SciFi Podcast recommended you and I’m so glad she did! I’ve listened to 5 episodes so far and I am really enjoying your discussions.
After hearing this one, I am going to have to go back and do a re-watch! I loved this movie back in the 80s, and watching Val Kilmer’s auto-documentary Val reminds me that this movie is where he met his wife too.
But I have to poke a you a bit, because when you discuss if there are any matriarchal cultures in the movie, what you are really asking is if the women are in charge. Current and historical matriarchies are egalitarian societies of peace, as best encapsulated by Heidi Goettner-Abendroth on the website of her matriarchy studies organization – https://www.hagia.de/en/matriarchy/
There are very few representations of actual matriarchy in current fantasy, mostly people just recreate a patriarchal structure but with women in charge. Speculative fiction though it may be, our speculation rarely goes as far afield as to imagine worlds without patriarchy. It’s so steeped in our culture, we don’t seem to be able to think beyond it except as an example of something so alien or unrealistic that it cannot work.
Anyway, looking forward to hearing more of your episodes, and thank you for this wonderful podcast!