Chess, Art, Cinema,Heros & Heroines
Chess Cinema & Women: Graceful and Loveable
Have you noticed the trend? Why is it that in chess films where the main protagonist is male, he usually comes off as an unlikeable, arrogant bastard , often already half-way crazy? But where the protagonist is female, she is natural, sincere and loveable ?
Does this seem fair? Perhaps not if you have a sensitive male ego, but there has been a spate of such films in recent years: Joueuse (2009) and Queen of Katwe (2016) come readily to mind. NetFlix’s Queen’s Gambit makes it 3-0.
Should we men be worried? I don’t think so. Chess is chess! One thing is indiscutable: chess today needs positive PR more than ever.
But just to be clear: there is no doubt that times are changing. Today the leading female heroines in both literature and cinema are re-defining gender roles. Women everywhere are becoming empowered.
Beth Harmon has flaws and vices, is at times morally ambiguous and sexually unpredictable, yet in the Queen’s Gambit these qualities are celebrated! Beth is independent, non-judgemental and successful. The modern woman in every sense of the word!
It is a great pity for the chess world that Beth is only a fictional character…
Did Maya Deren inspire Bergman’s The 7th Seal?
Maya Deren (born Eleanora Derenkowskaia) 1917-1961, was one of the most important American experimental film-makers and entrepreneurial promoters of the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s.
Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, film theorist, poet, lecturer, writer and photographer. The function of film, Deren believed, like most art forms, was to create an experience…
In her 1944 short film At Land , I really liked how she used chess both as a prop and a metaphor. Below I give a short excerpt of this 15-minute film. Maya — the protaganist of the film — is seen climbing onto a dinner table heading towards a game of chess played at the other end.
By the time she crawls the way there, both she and the game have changed. Isn’t that so much like LIFE? We all set goals, but once we achieve them, the world has changed.
I recommend the read take a look at the entire (15-minutes) film HERE. There are several eerie beach scenes that remind me a lot of some of the beach scenes in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957).
Another thing they have in common is chess. Of course, Bergman chose a male as the main protaganist.
Maya was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1947 and travelled in circles inhabited by the likes of Marcel Duchamps, Anais Ninn and John Cage. This latter was helpful to her in producing At Land.
Her work developed a large and loyal following, and she inspired many young female artists to pursue their dreams. One of her most famous students was Carolee Schneemann.
Maya, despite being a free spirit, married three times indicating a personal loneliness that was difficult to satisfy. Maya died young, and tragically, before her time.
She was just 44 when a hemorrage brought on by extreme malnutrition struck. Wiki writes ” Her condition may have also been weakened by her long term dependence on amphetamines and sleeping pills prescribed by Dr. Max Jacobson , an arts scene doctor notorious for his liberal prescription of drugs,who later became famous as one of President Kennedy‘s physicians.
Her father suffered from hypertension, which she may also have had. Her ashes were scattered in Japan at Mount Fuji.