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Date Posted: 17:29:14 06/02/04 Wed
Author: Karen
Subject: Mel doing Queen Boudicca [get your mind out of the gutter Lark!]

One of the possible Bladewielders in my Bladewielders section [www.solitaryphoenix.com/WitchbladeBladewieldersP4]. Boudicca sounds like a fascinating person; I'm this is one Mel pic I will be seeing.

"Hollywood Plans Stir Ghosts of Ancient Britain

Tue Jun 1, 2004

By Pete Harrison

LONDON (Reuters) - Mel Gibson is guaranteed a panning for his forthcoming film on Britain's warrior queen Boudicca, experts say -- either from the feminists who have turned her into an icon, or from the historians for whom she remains an enigma.

Gibson is no stranger to controversy. His "Passion of the Christ" caused uproar among Jewish groups, who tried to have the film banned, charging that the graphic portrayal of the crucifixion unjustly portrayed Jews as his killers.

Now his Icon production company is working on "Warrior" in the race to take Boudicca to the big screen -- a subject guaranteed to raise hackles in Britain, whose occupants Boudicca spurred to rebel against their Roman occupiers in AD 60-62.

"Take any figure where there's been emotional investment and you're going to annoy someone," said folklorist Dr Juliette Wood. "We know so little about her and yet she has been turned into a meta-historical icon."

Boudicca, known also as Boudica and Boadicea, has become hot property in Hollywood, where no fewer than four scripts on her are in the works, among them a Dreamworks production called "Queen Fury."

Scholars plucked Boudicca, whose name translates as "Victory," from historical obscurity during the 16th century. The little that is known about her has been gleaned from archeological excavations and the Roman historian Dio Cassius.

Writing shortly after the British rebellion, he described Boudicca as "very tall in stature, most terrifying in appearance, most fierce in the glance of her eye, with a harsh voice and a great mass of bright red hair that fell to her hips."

He drew heavily on the accounts of the historian Tacitus, whose father-in-law Agricola came face to face with the Celtic hordes.

Subterranean layers of ash from the Roman houses razed in Colchester, London and St Albans confirm the fury of her backlash, but the rest is deduction.

"She was one of the first Britons to set aside tribal rivalry and recognize a national identity," said Miranda Aldhouse-Green, a professor of archeology at the University of Wales.

"She was clearly someone of tremendous drive," she added. "And to convince other tribes like the Trinovantes to fight for her, she must have had a lot of charisma."

Wood says Boudicca disappeared from history during the Dark Ages but was resurrected in the 16th century by Queen Elizabeth I, who was keen to promote the concept of the noble warrior queen.

Like Gibson's "Passion," Boudicca's story is mired in blood. Having been flogged for challenging Britain's Roman occupiers and witnessed the rape of her two daughters, she wrought bloody revenge on the Roman town of Colchester.

Her forces are said to have cut off the breasts of Roman women and stuffed them in the victims' mouths.

Gavin O'Connor, one of the team working with Gibson on "Warrior," told Variety last month that the film would break the mold of female-driven battle films, which generally flop at the box office.

"What drew me is that she was driven by personal revenge," he said. "Her goals were never political."

Proof of that thirst for vengeance might have been found in London, where archeologists unearthed a Roman cemetery that was desecrated at the time of the rebellion. The head of a young woman had been placed between the legs of an old man.

But Mary Mackie, author of the Celtic novel "People of the Horse," cautioned against demonizing Boudicca's Iceni tribe.

"People think of them as savages, but they weren't," she said. "By Roman standards, they were quite civilized and they were terrific craftsmen."

Her violent rebellion came only after extreme provocation, said Mackie: "She had trusted the Romans, and it was only after they flogged her and raped her two daughters that she turned against them -- as you would.""

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