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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Legend

Where Are the Women? Legend

Tired tropes take on extra unpleasant dimensions here with the only significant female character viewing emotional and physical abuse through a dreamy lens.

Warning! Some of the details in the Wildcard section may constitute spoilers for those not familiar with the story.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of girls/women]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a woman who dies (either onscreen or off) whose death motivates a male protagonist? [why this matters]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -10

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional or biological relationship with a child or children*? (*in this case, adult children) [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -5

Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)

The girlfriend, later wife of one of the male coprotagonists is depicted in a way that romanticizes his deceitfulness and the abusive relationship she has with him. Even after she is driven to suicide by her love-hate relationship with him, she is still calling him (in her voiceover narration) her “prince.”

TOTAL SCORE: -20

IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: The tired trope of women as nothing more than support for men takes on an extra unpleasant dimension here with the only significant female character — the romantic partner of one of the male coprotagonists — viewing emotional and even physical abuse through a dreamy lens, and with the film itself apparently failing to realize the problem with this.


Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Legend! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Legend.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)


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