It’s easy to accept that Heckerling’s lack of recognition is typical of the treatment of female directors, and her challenges have included obstacles unknown to many male directors, such as taking time off for children and caring for elderly parents. However, her work in less prestigious mid-budget comedies and teen films, and therefore with new and lesser known actors, has often been by choice. Her great accomplishments as a feminist director come not from breaking into the prestigious and male-dominated genres, but in how she has presented female characters and female sexuality in her films.
‘Dragonslayer’ attempts to modernize the tale by diminishing the hero and splitting the princess into two women who are both brave at first glance, but it ultimately reinforces traditional roles. … Valerian’s fall from village leader (in disguise as a man) to hero helper, and finally damsel in distress that can only be rescued by the losing of her virginity (itself a patriarchal construct, often “used to control women’s sexuality”), is a particularly depressing character arc.
One might expect ‘Sorceress’ to be a powerfully feminist film and a faithful portrayal of the Middle Ages. It disappoints on both counts. … For all its faults, ‘Sorceress’ remains much more attentive to women’s experiences than many films, and provides insights into village life during the Middle Ages.