However it’s displayed, Maiden’s message of sexist discrimination is a bitingly important one, and it’s resonance becomes particularly strong
Accruing the right balance between story line and the assured nature of making a point is vital to any documentary hoping to assert its place with recognition and understanding. Maiden, the story of Tracey Edwards, the skipper of the first all-female boat entered into the Whitbread Round The World Race in 1989, needs both its story and message to take up the majority of the screen time, often finding itself drifting between the two, rather than showing them simultaneously. The theming perhaps feels a little forced when long sections home in on one particular point, but these are mere minor gripes rather than anything majorly detrimental to the film.
However it’s displayed, Maiden’s message of sexist discrimination is a bitingly important one, and it’s resonance becomes particularly strong, especially through the feature’s second act. Edwards notes herself how she never saw her actions as feminist movements, and that seems to run through the suggestions made by the footage itself, with her personality showing sheer determination against those who insulted and doubted her. Edwards defiance is absolutely Maiden’s driving force, and that makes for an engaging and educational story.
Yet this defiance is often left trailing in the wake of how enormous the Round The World Race actually is. With huge amounts of run time dedicated to explaining the logistics of sailing around the world, it ultimately fails to fully showcase how close the 1989 race was, leaving confusion over the standings to get in the way of the success of the boat and its crew. The magnitude of the achievement isn’t always pushed as strongly as it should have been, and that closes off some of the heights the race should be able to reach. Archival footage will never be the easiest to utilise, but modern graphics and imagery will have helped hugely to overcome some of these more obvious issues.
Maiden does show off Tracey Edwards and her team in the most brilliant and resilient light, offering an engaging documentary with huge appeal. Its flaws are there, but never commanding, and its handling of sexism is starkly real, especially in some of the intimate interviews it utilises wonderfully. The achievement Edwards and her team managed is magnificent, and Maiden does do a great job of showing just how important it was for female sporting representation across the globe.
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