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Xena and Her Warrior Women
31 July 2006
By Kim Clayton-Millar
She stood tall as an oak tree, her long jet-black hair framing a face men would kill for; her body worthy of the silks of a pampered queen, but dressed instead in skin-tight leather; her only adornments a sword and pair of lethal hands able to crack a head open with one blow.
Her name was Xena … for best effect, whispered, her still-adoring fans will tell you, with just a little breathlessness in the tone.
In the mid 1990s, millions of television viewers worldwide found themselves drawn to an action fantasy adventure series with a mythological Greek setting - a time of ancient gods, warmongers and demons - in which a captivating Amazonian-like, yet sexy, female warrior called Xena kicked some serious butt, yet still managed to attract the guys, and, if the ever- hopeful gay fans of the show's fondest wish were true … a girl (Gabrielle) too.
Xena, Warrior Princess ran from 1995 to 2001 and starred gorgeous Lucy Lawless as a young woman forced to toughen up and fight for physical superiority to most of the men in her life, when her family was slaughtered by a band of pillaging militia.
After being a feared and loathed badass, the warring princess' conscience pricked her into turning her back on old feuds and using her physical attributes to fight for good instead. She literally kicked over a new leaf by rescuing a girl called Gabrielle from thugs. The starry-eyed maiden then nagged the warrior woman into dragging her along on her adventures and soon became Xena's intimately devoted sidekick through a campy, funny and fight-filled series of fantasy adventures.
Lawless as Xena earned such huge cult status that literally hundreds of web sites devoted to all things Xena sprung up on the 'Net, most still in existence. Fanfare reached such a fever pitch that a new term, "xenaverse" - used to describe things set in the universe of the show - was even coined.
The rest, as they say, was television icon-making history. Happily, for those who've missed the action she-hero and loved the concept of a woman winning battles, hearts and making a difference in history, there is hope.
From on Tuesday night, as part of the celebration of Women's month on SABC2, an action-filled edutainment series called Warrior Women, consisting of five one-hour documentary films (a different one will go out every Tuesday at 9.30pm for the rest of the month) will be screened.
The films, hosted and narrated by Lucy Lawless, are a mix of real- life historical stories about five dissimilar female warriors - Mulan, Boudica, Grace O'Malley, Lozen and Joan of Arc - all of whom had different passions and causes but shared the common bond of being strong, fearless women who not only survived, but ruled in the male-dominated society into which they were born.
The New Zealand-born Lawless, is perfect to front this series, as the iconic warrior woman hero character Xena she made her own, while fictional, epitomised the spirit of the real-life warrior women featured in this unique series.
To give the doccies authenticity, taking viewers into the core of each woman's world and bringing history more realistically to life, they were shot on location in France, Ireland, Britain, China, and New Mexico. These are no Hallmark channel pretty stories and while they are artistically shot, the filmmakers have tried to keep each re-enacted tale faithful to the facts.
While some still prefer their historic tales to come in the form of dusty old library books, this series is a chance for viewers to learn more of, or re-visit, what they already know about these five iconic heroines through the visually expressive medium of television.