Rose McGowan will star as Red Sonja in a new movie to be released this year or next.
Scholars such as myself who specialize in the study of Barbarian Warrior Women are abuzz with this news. As some of you know, I am the chairman of The Institute for Cultural, Anthropological and Aesthetic Studies of Barbarian Warrior Women, and as such I have boundless enthusiasm for this important genre of art, literature, cinema and collectible action figures. We at the Institute are hoping that President Obama will give us a generous research grant as part of his economic stimulous package to really get the foundation off the ground.
Rose McGowan is a gorgeous actress who had an unfortunate association with Marilyn Manson that falls in the "What was she thinking?!" file, and we must not speak of it again. She is turning over a new cheek by donning a chainmail bikini. And really, what kind of world would it be if a lady can't get a fresh start by wearing a shiny new chainmail bikini? Bless her heart.
Thanks to the miracle of Netflix, I recently saw Rose's performance in Grindhouse, where her leg was eaten by zombies and she used an M-16 for a prosthesis. She demonstrated amazing flexibility and dexterity in this nuanced and layered performance, which doubtless will serve her well in swordplay scenes.
In Grindhouse, Rose was inexplicably coy and demure, an incongruous bit of modesty in a movie bursting with nauseating, over-the-top gore and grossness. The filmmakers obviously wanted to maintain some semblance of decency; after all the oozing, bulbous pustules and beheadings, the sight of Rose in immodest repose would have been offensive.
But compare Rose's shyness in Grindhouse to her scant trappings at an awards show where she was photographed on the red carpet with Marilyn Manson. (Dang it! Didn't I say not to speak of that again?) She wore a chainmail dress with lots of missing links in the caboose. This ample, public display of her healthy complexion gives me hope that Rose is at least willing to portray Sonja as equally daring in her fashion choices, and whoops, maybe she forgets her chainmail bikini in a scene where a sabertooth tiger surprises her. It could happen. This common scenario too often ended in tragedy, as archaeologists will tell you, but it would end differently for Sonja. A lack of metal lingerie wouldn't deter Red Sonja from winning a sabertooth catfight, that's for sure and certain.
Because, really, do you really think any self-respecting Barbarian Warrior Woman like Red Sonja would be consumed with notions of Victorian modesty? I think not. She has better things to do, like sharpening her sword and smiting her enemies.
This wardrobe issue is really a matter of historical credibility in cinema. Take, for example, the caveman movie genre: In the 1966 film One Million Years B.C., you knew right away when you saw Raquel Welch as Loana wearing an intricately crafted deerskin brassiere that she wasn't really a cavewoman, right?
But in Quest for Fire, cave people weren't concerned with modesty in the least. Rae Dawn Chong wore only dried mud, and that was for camouflage, not modesty. Which film was more believable? I, for one, prefer realism to suspend my disbelief while I am engrossed in a historical Barbarian Warrior Woman epic. Authenticity. Credibility. These are vital to the integrity of the genre.
Although the character of Red Sonja was created by Conan creator Robert E. Howard, her good name was tainted by an unfortunate 1985 film starring Brigitte Nielsen. The dreadful failure of that movie demonstrates the folly of trying to make a "kid-safe" Barbarian Warrior Woman film, sans nudity, sexuality or realistic violence. Barbarian Warrior Woman films properly should be rated R, with rampant gratuitous nudity and sexuality, intense action and dazzling swordplay. A decent story would be a crowning touch. I hope the new Red Sonja will be captured in the magnificent style of 300.
We at the Institute will be eagerly awaiting this film, which is sure to enrich and ennoble the venerable Barbarian Warrior Woman genre. It will certainly stimulate the economy, too.