Thursday

The girls of NausicaƤ

Nausicaa has become one of my favourite films. It's an explicitly Eco-feminist story; at one point a cargo-hold full of refugee mothers pleads with her to stop the men from fighting their idiotic wars. That blunt moment comes at the heart of a thorough examination of war, environmental destruction, and petty nationalism.

I worry that she is a little too perfect. She's an expertly sword fighter, an expert pilot, a botanist, friend to the animals, an ecologist, a lover of everything, a steadfast worker towards peace who holds her principals through thick and thin. In other words, she has the kind of character stats it would be impossible to roll-up. That makes her a little bit less sympathetic. 

She's also built.  I'm not sure how I feel about how 'well drawn' she is. On the one hand, she's a woman, and women have bodies, and to deny her female physique would be to deny her gender.  I think there are a few unnecessary shots of her in the film, but then I hear how my lady tracks about Tom Hardy, an I think 'well, maybe it's ok for a hero to be beautiful'.

All that is a bit vague. I mainly wanted to provoke a discussion About her foil, Kushana, and how she's different in the comic - and which representation is more feminist..?

In the film, Kushana is a pretty straightforward baddie. Having a female baddie is I think an especially good move, because it makes the gender axis more complicated and less black-and-White. Having a female hero and villain shows that women are not one easy-to-define group. Whilst nausicaa is fighting overwhelmingly male forces - both physical and socially - the film puts men and women on both sides of the conflict, and is richer for it.

The comic complicates Kushana's character. In the film, the only excuse for her behaviour offered is that she lost some limbs to an insect when she was young, and this has made her a less empathetic character. On the other hand, In the comic, she has been sent to fight a lost cause and die by her father the emperor and her domineering brothers; she might be the local baddie, but she has been sold out by what can only be described as Patriarchy. This puts her back into the 'smash patriarchy' camp in the story (which i haven't finished reading yet)

 The film works because it sells you a feminist message and gives women screen time on both sides of the conflict. The book works because it provides another example of women being put down by men. So which of these depictions is... Better?