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Women, Sport, and Film - Fall 2004

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Three Significant Movies

Jane Dechert

All the movies from this semester brought a different perspective to the topic of
women, sport and film. The three that I preferred were Girl Fight, Bend it Like
Beckham, and Rocky. They might not all have been devoted to women, such as Rocky,
but that doesn't mean there isn't something to be learned from the movie. Rocky
provided the other side to the question of what makes women's sports films different
from men's. The other two movies demonstrate more modern ways that sports are played
out in films. They both have strong main female characters that achieve a lot of personal
growth and change a good deal throughout the process of the movie.
Girl Fight holds a strong place among these movies because it uses sports to play
out a personal story of growth and development. The main character is seen transforming
from a girl, incapable of dealing with emotions and her life, to a strong individual who is
ready to take whatever will come and is enjoying herself. One key element to the movie
is how much she really enjoys the sport, and the fact that it is her outlet of many other
things that she herself doesn't understand. Although the character does not open herself
up to many other characters, her weakness can be seen by the viewer and bring depth to
her character and the film. This is an important film to understanding the relationship
between women sport and film because it shows a very common story line that is taken to
the next level with a female athlete.
I think Rocky was one of the essential films because of the fact that it had what
would be considered a traditional narrative in many ways. However, it also had much
more depth because of the characters and some of the metaphors they created. The
character of Rocky showed a duality in his character. On the one side he was very
simple, child-like and loving, but on the other hand he was powerful and capitalizing on
this in order to beat them in boxing, a very physical sport. The sport was not about a
woman, but it did prove a much needed base line to compare the other movies. It brought
up some interesting weaknesses about sports characters in general that sometimes carried
over into the female characters and sometimes not, such as his need for Adriane. Rocky
was able to fill a void that is needed in a women, sport and film class, just so the viewers
can understand what is unique and special about the women seen in the other films.
Bend it Like Beckham brought the most to the course because it showed what
films are capable of. This movie was considered a "soccer movie" yet the real story was
about her family life, how that effected her, and how she responded to it. The fact that
she played a sport wasn't enough to sustain the entire story line. It shows that women
have come a long way and are not seen as unusual to be playing a sport or to want to play
a sport. This actually did more for the dialogue of women's sports films than a movie
where sport was the main problem because it made female involvement a norm of British
culture that she was trying to join.
I enjoyed Pat and Mike, but I didn't like some of the aspects of Pat's character. I
thought it was an entertaining movie to watch and had some good scenes in it. However,
I think that the way Pat was suddenly unable to play sports whenever her fiancée was
around was over-done. The director could have made this problem into something more
realistic. There needed to be some strong basis for the way she changed when he was
around, and I don't think this was explained fully by the movie. I would understand the
inability to play if it wasn't so drastic from her normal talent. It would also fit in the
story better if there was more interaction between her and fiancée to show the root of the
problem. The cause was explained on some level, but there is more that could be done
with this part of the story that would make it much stronger. I did get something out of
this movie, but not as much as I could have if some of the characters had differed
A League of Their Own was a classic movie about women, however I do not
think it brought a new dimension to women in sports. The movie spoke much more
about women in general and their roles and interactions and triumphs. Part of the
problem might be that I have seen it too many times and am therefore not as compelled
by it as I might have been the first time I saw it. One thing I noticed is that in some
respects Dottie does not seem very believable as a ball player. Dottie is the common
sense type of girl that would stick with a real consistent job rather than traveling around
in such a way. In many ways she just seemed to lady-like in her airs and attitudes to be
playing baseball. She didn't seem like she enjoyed a night out on the town with the girls
as much as she would enjoy a good book by the fire.
Another problem I had was that Dottie does not have many faults. I wish there
was some significant flaw that was brought up and questioned in the movie. Instead her
only flaw was having a sister that had problems. The sister is the one that pointed out the
minor problems that Dottie did have, which was essential because without it there would
be almost no depth to the story at all. Dottie was not only good at many things and
pretty, but she was humble. She was difficult not to like, but on the other hand she was
hard to relate too. Therefore I was not as attached to this movie as some of the other
films that had characters who are very exposed to the viewer.
Overall I thought that all the films were interesting, but the three that really made
an impression on me were Girl Fight, Rocky, and Bend it Like Beckham. They were all
movies that had many layers to them and the characters had a depth you might not have
expected in such people. For this, and other reasons, I followed along these movies more
closely and found them more appealing.
Jane Dechert
Women, Sport & Film- Campbell

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