By Taylor Walston
A good movie tells a story we can relate to, or it transports us to another place and time to teach us something new. Films often feature archery as a symbol of strength and individuality. The theatrical posters for the four movies below feature powerful images of their main characters wielding a bow and arrows. These films are just four of many movies featuring archery, but we’ll focus on them because the sport plays a significant role in each story.
The Robin Hood tale stands the test of time, from Douglas Fairbanks in the 1922 silent film to Taron Egerton in the 2018 action-packed retelling. This story has been interpreted as comedy, drama, and adventure. No matter the version, Robin Hood’s character lives on as a warrior for underprivileged people as he takes from the rich and gives to the poor.
Each decade seems to bring another retelling of the classic, and we’re OK with that. The tale’s 2001 interpretation features Keira Knightley as Gwyn, Robin Hood’s daughter. She goes on a quest with the band of merry men to save her father. She displays her archery prowess and proves she’s as skilled an archer as her father.
“Robin Hood” marks the first of two fictional archers Knightley portrays. Three years later she played Guinevere in “King Arthur.”
Verdict: Each “Robin Hood” film made its mark on archery.
King Arthur movies please anyone who loves Medieval lore and archery. Though King Arthur is more known for his swordsmanship, two film adaptations of the legend feature characters who are skilled archers.
Knightley couldn’t shake archery’s allure when signing on to play Guinevere, who she portrayed as a fearless soldier, not the damsel in distress of the original legend. One of the movie’s most memorable archery moments is when Guinevere leads her army by shooting flaming arrows.
In the 2017 version, “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” a character sharpens his archery skills to ensure he lands a 175-yard shot. The film shows him practicing the shot in the woods, putting enough height on the arrow to carry the distance. When the moment arrives, he coats his finger in resin and calms his nerves. He then aims at the distant villain, and fulfills his mission.
Verdict: Arthurian legend coupled with archery makes movie magic.
It’s impossible to highlight movies that feature archery without mentioning the one that inspired countless youngsters. Katniss and “The Hunger Games” sparked a curiosity and intrigue for archery that drove youths to the range to connect with the charismatic character. They took up Katniss’ hobby to be bold and brave like her.
Suzanne Collins told The New York Times in 2018 that she had a vision of Katniss as an archer before she started writing. She wanted Katniss to be good at something that helped her survive in the district, and later help her survive the arena. “A bow and arrow can be handmade, shot from a distance, and weaponized when the story transitions into warfare,” Collins said.
Katniss’ name is also derived from archery. Collins discovered the name Katniss in a book about edible plants she was studying. “I found the arrowhead plant, and the more I read about it, the more it seemed to reflect her,” Collins said. “(The arrowhead plant’s) Latin name has the same roots as Sagittarius, the archer. The edible tuber roots she could gather, the arrowhead-shaped leaves were her defense, and the little white blossoms kept it in the tradition of flower names, like Rue and Primrose.”
Verdict: A character deeply rooted in archery earns a place on this list.
Disney’s “Brave” was released three months after “The Hunger Games,” and made 2012 a good year for archery. At its core, “Brave” is a story about a family’s unbreakable bond. This heartbreaking tale has a happy ending, as most Disney movies do, and Merida’s passion for archery makes it even better.
Merida’s archery practice is her escape and symbol of independence. Archery becomes the skill that saves her from marrying someone she doesn’t love. The scenes that show her practicing are visually stunning, whether it’s launching arrows on horseback or splitting an arrow in half. And the scene in which young Merida gets her first bow, which is twice her size, could inspire a grin from even the most stoic viewers.
Verdict: “Brave” is a great movie for young archers, even if they’re not big fans of Disney films.
Plenty of other films that showcase archery deserve to be on your “watch list,” but the movies above are the most iconic. Review this article for an expanded selection of movies you wouldn’t expect to feature archery. Add them to your queue and enjoy the adventures.
Visit an archery range after your movie marathon, and get started with equipment and lessons.