"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ready, Set, Bow!

Princess Merida from Brave
The hottest weapon in Hollywood that's making an old school comeback through several big blockbusters is the simple bow and arrow.  Typically used for hunting, the origins of the bow and the arrow can be traced back to the Paleolithic age (10,000-9000 BCE) around what is now Germany.  Many civilizations have the archery weapons present in their tradition of storytelling told through generations.  But the emergence of guns as weaponry made them outdated and old-fashioned.  Now it has become more of a recreational activity and has been featured on and off in the Summer Olympics since 1900.

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games
It is also making a comeback in the movies.  Look around and many of the heroes and more significantly, heroines of these films are archers.  Katniss Everdeen, Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, Prince Arjun from the Mahabharata and in the Pixar film Brave opening today, Princess Merida are all picking up the bow and arrow to show their skills.  Before this, the most famous archer of them all was the legendary Robin Hood who had several Hollywood incarnations, animated and live-action.  The most famous Robin was, of course, Errol Flynn but we recently can recall Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe filling in those shoes as well.

Errol Flynn as Robin Hood
So, why the surge in archers?  It just boils down to timing.  The Hunger Games books have been out for years and the films that features all our protagonists have also been in the works for years.  It is extremely fortuitous that 2012 coinciding with the Summer Olympics puts the sport and bow and arrow in focus.  Not to mention the movies all released on top of each other and were huge blockbusters.

Clint Barton aka Hawkeye
The Avengers has made over a billion dollars worldwide and sits at #3 as the all time box office champ behind Avatar and Titanic.  The Hunger Games stayed atop the US box office for four straight weeks and made over $500 worldwide.  The sequel, Catching Fire, will release on November 22, 2013.  Brave too is poised to do the same from the first original content from Pixar since 2009.  The crew of Pixar actually went to the Scottish Highlands to research the authenticity in the scenes and some of the animators even took archery lessons to get it right.

Geena Davis
The sport will even welcome people who might not previously be inclined to it earlier.  Famously former actress and Oscar winner Geena Davis took up archery and even tried out for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.  This year's archery event will take place at the famed Lord's Cricket grounds in London from July 27-August 3rd where 128 men and women from around the world will compete for medals.  Archers from South Korea, USA and Italy have usually excelled in the sport.

Prince Arjun from Arjun: The Warrior Prince
2012 might as well proclaim itself the year of the bow and arrow.  The past few months have show how well these films have hit the target at the box-office.  It's certainly not because of the weapon they use but how the skill and accuracy employed by the bow and arrow so defines these heroines and heroes.  It becomes their second skin.  It publicizes the sport of archery and gives us characters to root for and admire.  Not bad for the simple bow and arrow.

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