There’s a good reason why pedantic historians and enthusiastic students never cease to ask the question “why is the swordplay in “medieval” Hollywood movies still based off of 19th-century sports fencing and to-the-minute choreography when we have HEMA (historical European martial arts) and HAMA (historical African martial arts) practitioners and theorists promulgating translated combat treatises from the Middle Ages across the internet for the world to see?”
My brain quakes trying to understand why to this day we still don’t have a Hollywood movie that shows medieval sword fighting accurately. Now without mocking any movie that’s already been produced, let’s discuss what movies in the future will look like…
Welcome to my post about used books Victoria BC. Sometimes we can have a strong habit all our lives and not know it’s there until–BAM!–you look at the big stack of stuff you’ve been collecting all these years and realize … hmmm? … “I have a problem!”
Everything has a polar opposite–everything!–and so if such things as LitRPG, where common sense and practicality are completely ignored, can reach the market of fantasy books then so will such things as LitHEMA, where common sense and practicality are praised. This is inevitable! In other words if I don’t work towards the fruition of LitHEMA then someone else will, and this new fantasy subgenre will win its place in the market by merit whether the vast majority likes it or not.
LitHEMA takes “realism” and “grittiness” one step beyond Grimdark. Like LitHEMA, much Grimdark may also be called low fantasy, dark fantasy or historical fantasy. There is something special about it that keeps certain readers with certain tastes coming back and back again. But what separates LitHEMA from all these similar genres?
Before you hit me with “realism in fantasy only means consistency”, consider that ancient and medieval people knew what they were doing and their armor looks the way it does for very important reasons. Here I will be taking a brief look at a few popular fantasy tropes and compare them to historical reality to show you why much fantasy armor is impractical in real life.
My argument is that realism and research-put-into-action makes movies more educational and more entertaining as well!–A WHOLE LOT MORE ENTERTAINING (and bearable). A favorite example of this is HEMA versus Hollywood swordplay choreography.
When we were children it was easy for us to become enchanted by stories and films that were riddled with unrealistic scenarios and outcomes because stories designed for children and the wider audience are for the most part unrealistic on purpose. After all, fairy tales intentionally contain absolutes and one-dimensional characters because they’re important for the growth of our children’s moralities and identities. And many traditional fantasy novels, inspired by medieval fairy tales, continue this pattern of writing for children and the wider audience. If you’ve chosen the path of a medievalist or simply are passionate about medieval living you probably already know how easy it is to be dissatisfied with most medieval fantasy. There are of course gems like The Traitor Son Cycle and A Song of Ice and Fire which are intentionally inspired by actual history rather than fairy tales and these tend to grab a different audience.
My ideal genre would be a sub-genre of historical fiction called hemapunk. Hema as in H.E.M.A or historical European martial arts, and the punk is just because … authors get goofy and I was inspired by the word “steampunk”. Hemapunk would be medieval fiction focused more on historical accuracy, not so much focused on actual events of the past but more so on proper descriptions and realistic war tactics.