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Kenau: heroine or harridan?
March 10, 2014 3:36 AM   Subscribe

The fascinating thing about the sexist Dutch slur kenau -- aimed at women deemed too aggressive or bossy -- is that it originated as the given name of a heroine of the Eighty Years War, Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer who during the 1573 Siege of Haarlem led a monstrous regiment of women in defence of her home town against the Spanish oppressor. Last week a movie was released retelling her legend, which prompted the Haarlem Frans Hals Museum to create a short documentary about her, Kenau: heroine or harridan, looking at the historical truth of Kenau Hasselaer's life, which has been subtitled in English.
posted by MartinWisse (19 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
When the hell did they film this? I only watched the trailer, but there are several shots taken in VERY busy places in the center of Haarlem (a couple of the stable shots are from the main square; the port gate (Haarlemse Poort), at least one with de grote kerk shot from a not-obviously-CGI angle....

I mean, I'm not in the center of town every day, but damn. Last summer there was a catering set up for about three weeks (familiar to me from NYC where I had a producer friend who'd invite me down sometime) a couple blocks past the south of the canal that demarcates the "center" of town, but that would have been a real trek to any of those locations for a film crew.

Good post - going to see the movie asap!
posted by digitalprimate at 5:02 AM on March 10


Is "monstrous regiment" intentionally a Pratchett reference, or am I just seeing things because I need to drink more coffee before internetting?
posted by which_chick at 5:13 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Never was a place defended with such skill and bravery as Haarlem, it was a war such as never was seen or heard of in any land on Earth." (Don Federico of Toledo, captain of the Spanish besiegers, writing to Philip II, King of Spain, in 1573).
Grim stuff.
posted by adamvasco at 5:17 AM on March 10


The Pratchett book is a reference to this tract.
posted by zamboni at 5:17 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


See also: "old battle-axe."
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:22 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I would cheerfully watch this. I don't know enough about Continental European history in the 16th C (although I have a pretty good grasp of English history for the same period), and what I do know is like isolated islands with no sense of how they interact and influence each other.

I'm sure the film can be decried as hideous propaganda or bad history by some group or other, but you can say the same about A Lion in Winter, and that's still a lot of fun. Give me a film about grubby grim-faced people in thick woolen clothes in drab colors struggling through obscenely complicated politics and shifting alliances at least once a week, and I will be a happy man. The presence of creative ruffs and brandished halberds will only be gravy on the 16th C cake.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:14 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Dutch women and male feminists can take back the term if they make a concerted effort to name their daughters "Kenau"
posted by Renoroc at 7:14 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]



Dutch women and male feminists can take back the term if they make a concerted effort to name their daughters "Kenau"




Whoa . . .
 
posted by Herodios at 7:35 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


That went on my letterboxd watchlist even though I have no idea when or if it's coming out in the US. The history is undoubtedly dodgy, but that can be said of a lot of perfectly entertaining stories whose claim to historical truthiness is questionable.
posted by immlass at 8:09 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


"Kenau" is a fairly unique name - does it have a German/French/English version or is it uniquely Dutch?
posted by brokkr at 8:14 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Nationalistic pathos by glorifying semi-fictitious past events doesn't become much more palatable when done by small countries.
posted by dhoe at 9:57 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Nationalistic pathos by glorifying semi-fictitious past events doesn't become much more palatable when done by small countries.

Pathos...or ethos!? After seeing the trailer, I'm ready to go mix it up with some period costumed Spaniards right now! I mean, right after I get a croquette of vaguely Spanish derivation out of the wall for EUR 2.00 at the Febo....

We don't actually have a Febo in Haarlem. Not that I know about anyway.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:25 AM on March 10


I stand corrected.
posted by digitalprimate at 11:10 AM on March 10


For a long time, I have said that I want to see Uma Thurman in a Yma Sumac biopic, just so the poster can read "Uma is Yma!" Now I hope that Keanu Reeves will appear in the Hollywood remake of this film. Not that Hollywood would make a film about Dutch history, but....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:32 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


When the hell did they film this?

Here's what they say in this interview (in Dutch) at P&W: apparently the entire film was shot in Hungary and Belgium. With the help of foam props and lots of CG.
posted by Caconym at 3:07 PM on March 10


Virago would be more appropriate than harridan.
posted by brujita at 8:09 PM on March 10


10 Hardcore Female Military Leaders From History
posted by homunculus at 11:03 PM on March 10


"... lots of CG."

That is some damn convincing CG. OK, the port I can see as form, and they might have been able to paste in de grote kerk, but there's one scene in the trailer where they are in a stable or something and the view from the inside of the building to the outside is exactly what the view would be from inside one of the buildings (the old meat market in particular) in the center of town.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:27 AM on March 11


Nationalistic pathos by glorifying semi-fictitious past events doesn't become much more palatable when done by small countries.

What would a suitable representation look like? (I ask half in annoyance, half in genuine curiosity. Up the rebels tends to be my natural instinct, and for my money, in this case, that would be Kenau et al. Others may differ, but seriously, how else could it, should it have been done?)
posted by IndigoJones at 6:43 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


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