When Jesus was a Girl: Polymythic Female Christ Figures
in Whale Rider and Steel Magnolias

By David Fillingim


1. Anton Karl Kozlovic, “Jesus Covered In a Secular Wrapper: The Christ-figure in Popular Films,” Kinema (Fall 2005), http://www.kinema.uwaterloo.ca/kozl052.htm; “The Structural Characteristics of the Cinematic Christ-figure,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 8 (Fall 2004), http://www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art8-cinematicchrist.html.

2. Christipher Deacy, “Reflections on the Uncritical Appropriation of Cinematic Christ-Figures: Holy Other or Wholly Inadequate?” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 13 (Summer 2006), http://www.usask.ca/relst/jrpc/art13-reflectcinematicchrist.html.

3. Kozlovic, “Structural Characteristics,” par. 6-10.

4. Kozlovic, “Jesus Covered In a Secular Wrapper”; Linda Mercadante, "Bess the Christ Figure? Theological Interpretations of Breaking the Waves."  Journal of Religion and Film 5/1 (April 2001); http://cid.unomaha.edu/~wwwjrf/bessthe.htm; Arnfriður Guðmundsdóttir, “Female Christ-figures in Films: A Feminist Critical Analysis of Breaking the Waves and Dead Man Walking,” Studia Theologica 56/1 (June 2002): 27-43.

5. Kozlovic, “Structural Characteristics.”

6. Esther Figueroa, Review of Whale Rider, The Contemprorary Pacific 16/2 (Fall 2004), 422-425; Ann Hardy, “Return of the Taniwha: The Re-spiritualization of Land and Film in Aotearoa,” British Review of New Zealand Studies 14 (2004): 84-104; Antje M. Rauwerda, Review of The Whale Rider (Novel and Film), Postcolonial Text 1/1 (2004), http://postcolonial.org/index.php/pct/index; Pascale De Souza, “Maoritanga in Whale Rider and Once Were Warriors: A Problematic Rebirth Through Female Leaders,” Studies in Australasian Cinema 1/1 (January 2007): 15-27.

7. Tānia M. Ka‘ai, “Te Kauae Mārō o Muri-ranga-whenua (The Jawbone of Muri-ranga-whenua): Globalising local Indigenous culture - Māori leadership, gender and cultural knowledge transmission as represented in the film Whale Rider,” Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies 2/2 (July 2005), http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/portal/splash/

8. De Souza, “Maoritanga,” 15; Ka‘ai, “Te Kauae Mārō,” 2.

9. John Petrakis, “Girl Power,” The Christian Century 120/20 (October 4, 2003): 44.

10. Figueroa, Review of Whale Rider, 423.

11. Chriss Prentice, “Riding the Whale? Postcolonialism and Globalization in Whale Rider,” in Global Fissures: Postcolonial Fusions, Cross Cultures Series 85, ed. Clara A.B. Joseph and Janet Wilson (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006), p. 258.

12. Ibid., p. 263. Prentice thus agrees both with those who view the film’s misrepresentation of Maori traditions as an inevitible consequence of telling a universally appealing story (see note XXX above) and with Tania M. Kau’ai assertion that the feminist agenda is to blame for the film’s misrepresentation of Maori tradition (see note XXX above).

13. Bernard Beck, “The Sea Around Us: Social Climbing in Seabiscuit, Whale Rider, and Finding Nemo,” Multicultural Perspectives 6/2 (2004), 26.

14. See note 7 above.

15. Guðmundsdóttir, “Female Christ-figures in Films,” 35, 38; Matthew McEver, “The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic,” Journal of Religion and Film 2/2 (October 1998), http://www.unomaha.edu/~jrf/McEverMessiah.htm, par. 29.

16. Lisa Tyler, “Mother-Daughter Myth and the Marriage of Death in Steel Magnolias,” Literature Film Quarterly 22/2 (1994) 98-104.

17. Susan Gubar, "Mother, Maiden and the Marriage of Death: Women Writers and an Ancient Myth." Women's Studies: An interdisciplinary Journal 6 (1979), 305, quoted in Tyler, “Mother-Daughter Myth,” 99.

18. Tyler, “Mother-Daughter Myth,” 99-100.

19. Ibid., pp. 101-103; on the beauty parlor as transformative female space in Steel Magnolias, see also Jennifer Scanlon “‘If My Husband Calls I'm Not Here’: The Beauty Parlor as Real and Representational Female Space,” Feminist Studies 33/2 (Summer 2007), 319-321.

20. Tyler, “Mother-Daughter Myth,” 102.

21. Mercadante, "Bess the Christ Figure?” par. 2.

22. See Barbara Hilkert Andolsen, “Agape in Feminist Ethics,” in Feminist Theological Ethics: A Reader, ed. Lois K. Daly (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), pp. 146-159.

23. Mercadante, "Bess the Christ Figure?,” par. 12.

24. Deacy, “Reflections on the Uncritical Appropriation of Cinematic Christ-Figures,” par. 10-14.

25. Kozlovic, “Structural Characteristics,” par. 70-71.

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