Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Girls with guns, swords ... and hammers?

Anyway you look at it, girls with weapons is a marriage made in heaven for painters and sculptors alike. I find the concept of associating weapons with girls most appealing. Why? Because it challenges many a society's prejudiced view of women as the subservient and weaker sex ... the very same segment of society that discriminates against you based on the colour of your skin or personal believes. Putting weapons in the hands of the feminine half of humanity is to me, a symbolic gesture of flipping the bird at prejudiced views. And what a better way to start off than Bonnie Parker.       

Bonnie Parker as played by Holliday Grainger

Although the movie about the infamous 1930's outlaw duo of Bonnie and Clyde by The History Channel has been slated by critics for taking considerable liberties with historical accuracy, I think they missed the point. The show was meant to be entertaining, which for me it was, and it provides a take on how a person ends up in a life of crime which reinforces the notion that life is coloured in many shades of grey. Moreover, this latest TV movie remake makes you want to read more about life during the years of the Great Depression in America as any good historical show should do.  

Bonnie and Clyde as envisioned by The History Channel movie

Bonnie would make an excellent subject for a sculptor and painter, something I have been more actively aware of ever since my interest in sculpting was sparked. Weapons and 1930's style of clothing on a sculptor of Bonnie Parker makes for a unique and interesting combination that differs greatly from your regular sci-fi and fantasy stuff. On that note, there is a much more modern version of Bonnie in Roxy as played by Tara Lynne Bar in the movie 'God Bless America'. 

Roxy as played by Tara Lynne Bar

Creeping up on me unawares, 'God Bless America' is one movie that simply stunned and blew me away with its brilliance. A movie in which closed-minded conservative individuals should shy away from as they will not be able to see past the violence, the story revolves around Frank (played by Joel Murray) who is down and out to put it mildly as he has a broken marriage with a child that hates him, has lost his job and has terminal illness. As Frank sits on the couch with a gun in his mouth ready to end it all, he has an epiphany that sees him team up with Roxy (played by Tara Lynne Bar) and proceed to take out the trash of society - [Spoiler Alert Begins] including spoiled teenagers, racist and religious bigots, people who talk in cinemas, and many more idiots of society [Spoiler Alert Ends].

God Bless America - a superb dark comedy

On the surface there seems to be nothing interesting to sculpt or paint where Roxy is concerned, though I beg to differ. As a sculpture, Roxy is a symbolic miniature that represents a stand against the idiocy that seems to envelope the masses, or a non-conformist figurehead if you will. But not all miniatures need to based on serious themes. There is always the fantastical such as Sucker Punch.

Babydoll, the protagonist in Sucker Punch, as played by Emily Browning

Despite 'Sucker Punch' being almost universally panned by so-called serious film critics, I for one enjoyed this movie while still acknowledging it could have been so much better. Directed by Zack Snyder of '300' and 'Man of Steel' fame, this movie had great fights scenes (choreographed by Damon Caro) and stunning visual effects. One possible ambiguity this film represents is that it treads a fine line between female empowerment and sexploitation of female characters for geeky fanboys. Regardless, the characters in this movie make for cool subjects for both sculptors and painters.     

Other girls of Sucker Punch, including Babydoll

Of all the main female characters in 'Sucker Punch', I am most tempted to do some early concept sketches of Babydoll to see how this character can be sculpted by a novice like me. Figures of Sucker Punch characters have been professionally made by companies such as Hot Toys, Sideshow Collectibles and Gentle Giant. My favourite so far is an 18" tall figure of Baby Doll by Gentle Giant.

Babydoll collectible figure by Gentle Giant

But if there is a hint of sexual controversy in the depiction of women in 'Sucker Punch', there is none - in my opinion - of The Bride or Beatrix Kiddo, a character played by Uma Thurman in Quentin Tarantino's 'Kill Bill'. Here, she is purely a mean, lean and lethal killing machine out for revenge. Arguably, the pose of Uma Thurman in a Bruce Lee outfit and holding a samurai sword is possibly the easiest to sculpt and paint. Another cool pose is one in which she is in a wedding outfit. 

The Bride as portrayed by Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman was excellent in Quentin Tarantino's no-holds-barred action movie that pays homage to many film genres (the heroine's costume is already a dead give away). Though admittedly the violence can be at times a tad overwhelming, 'Kill Bill' was engrossing and enthralling to say the least. A simple plot in which Uma Thurman plays an assassin seeking revenge against her former allies for trying to kill her serves as the vehicle in which Tarantino unleashes this masterpiece on us.
This is not a movie for you to analyze the psychological underpinnings of the main characters, of which nearly all are female, but one to enjoy for the well executed homage to Hong Kong martial arts films, Japanese sword fighting movies, revenge and you guessed it ... girls with guns and swords.

Kill Bill Volume II movie poster

Guns and swords most people get but a girl with a hammer? Two words ... Ramona Flowers. One of the few well made manga influenced comic-to-movie translations, 'Scott Pilgrim vs The World' was a delightful little show that was both outlandish and endearing in a quirky kind of way. Ramona is the love interest for the main protagonist Scott Pilgrim who must defeat her seven evil-exes. Sounds silly when you think of it but the plot works a treat and is acted out well in an over-the-top manner that suits the feel of the comics. Ramona is one character I would consider trying to sculpt and paint. 

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Ramona as how she looks in the comics (left) vs her movie version (right)

There is certainly no lack of characters to serve as an inspiration to start learning how to sculpt. But I  will need to take small baby steps and first start out with concept sketches of some of the characters I mentioned so far, including Katniss Everdeen. Fail or succeed it's shaping up to be one hell of a ride.


  1. Great post ! Fantastic the figurine of Sucker Punch ! ^-^
    Greetings .

    1. Yes indeed, the Gentle Giant figurine of Babydoll is superbly made.


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