Seriously random: Love those legs either way

Thanks for the extremely and to some extent unanticipatedly positive responses to the previous post. Still working on part IV, which I promise is coming up. Not enough visuality on this blog lately, so I offer you a visual moment I like very much from one of Strike Back‘s most painful scenes:

John Porter (Richard Armitage) asks Kenneth Bratton (David Butler) for a job after his discharge from the army. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

This is SO random. I found this moment of this scene sort of electrifying and couldn’t figure out why. It just finally occurred to me.

In the U.S. if you watch movies about the military you start to expect that the heroes will be just slightly bowlegged. I don’t know why that should be the case, but it’s true that I expect to see it and that I find it just a leetle bit sexy.

Mr. Armitage is emphatically not bowlegged, as we can see from this promotional photo of season 3 Guy of Gisborne, even though Armitage places Guy in a very slight contrapposto. Not the greatest example of Mr. Armitage’s exemplary skeletal structure, but a great picture (see “more visuality,” above):

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in a promotional photo for series 3 of Robin Hood. Source:

Looking at his left leg you can see that he does not have even a slight bow to either femur or tibia. Thank you, Mr. & Mrs. Armitage, for the good genes and for making sure your son was eating a diet rich in Vitamin D and calcium. (And thanks for feeding him in general so he could grow up to be so tall! Even if he doesn’t always appreciate it. I’m sure it was an expensive endeavour to build that whole body.) The legs can also look bowed if the knees are hyperextended. But I bet that all those years of dancing lessons and then the Alexander technique also stressed proper standing posture, so that we almost never see Mr. Armitage standing with his knee joint(s) hyperextended. Thank you, teachers of Mr. Armitage, for helping him to avoid adopting a posture that is rarely a good idea and can lead members of a wedding party who are unaccustomed to standing for long periods of time to fall down in a dead faint during an August wedding.

OK, but what got me about the first picture is that John Porter looks just very slightly bowlegged. This is a combination of this particular camera angle on his body, which makes Armitage’s legs look thinner than they really are (he’s standing neither frontally nor in profile but somewhere in between), the funny bagging of these particular trousers, and the appearance that Mr. Armitage actually has his knees overextended — which in my experience of photos of him is extremely rare.

So due to my troping of bowleggedness, Porter just looks really masculine to me in this photo. This post is a good example of academic overanalysis. I should have just written, “Look at his legs in this photo! Aren’t they cool?” But I am sort of constitutionally incapable of writing so little.

And if this weren’t such a distressing scene, noting this oddity would actually be jocular. Another interesting effect created by Mr. Armitage’s tallness: because Armitage has to bow down into the conversation with Bratton, he enhances our perception of John Porter’s humiliation — John almost has to bow his head to speak with Bratton. Though he was Bratton’s savior, he now has to beg for a favor. A really moving scene.

OK, both the ‘rents are in bed now, so time to rush off for a late-night viewing of as much of North & South as I can get in before I fall asleep.

~ by Servetus on June 6, 2010.

21 Responses to “Seriously random: Love those legs either way”

  1. The suit in the top picture is ill-fitting, adding to the effect of being hard on his luck and ill-at-ease. Contrast this to the tailored suit worn by Lucas as Pete, the bankman in Spooks 7 where he was sleek and positively glowing with success. The height difference is pronounced and as you say, illustrates how Richard has to lean in to get contact with most people.

    I love all the details of the RH3 costume, emphasising various parts of that body. (I’m thinking laces, too, but perhaps I should express that thought in Norwegian?)

    On that naughty note, have a nice weekend!


    • Oh, yeah. Those laces. I had a seriously evil thought about them. I’m not sure I’d even be comfortable saying what I thought about what I’d be doing with those laces in German.

      Good to know you’re safely married, MillyMe. Have a great weekend. 🙂


  2. He carries that Guy costume so well. I think it’s partly because he is so slim. I suspect that if I saw him in real life he would look even slimmer than I anticipate.

    We have many many things to thank his parents for, I suspect… 🙂

    Ah, yes, those laces, I’ve also had my own thoughts about them. Which probably shouldn’t be expressed in any language!


    • it’s interesting how often those laces come up in fanfic, too, so we are not the only ones.

      the Guy is costume is, well, if I were British, I’d say “gobsmacking”. Guy is so beautiful in season 3 that it almost distracts me from how bizarre the storylines became.


  3. I’ve been looking at this some more and I think there’s something enticing about the way the coat opens up in the V-shape right over the laces AND in the way that the belt for the sword also seems to block off the laces. Hide and reveal, hide and reveal …


  4. I think the expectation of bowleggedness (spelling? Real word?) in military films/ stories come from cowboy movies a la John Wayne or from calvary on screen. Horse riding leads to the bowlegged strut, which leads to the manly swagger, which a lot of “manly” men ( or at least the wanna be’s” ) tend to ape. Too many men try for the manly stride now adays, and fail, miserably, IMO. I just pictured Nathan Lane trying for John Wayne in “The Birdcage”


    • Interesting, Breda, I didn’t realize. The bowlegged swagger is definitely something I like, but I agree everyone needs to find his/her own sexy walk. 🙂


  5. Why have I not read this post before … apologies, it is most remiss of me. As the study of human movement and er .. legs, is part of my profession … no ,MR RA is certainly not bowlegged. He walks however with a little bit of knee hyperextension (note Harry’s walk when he meets Geraldine in the “half a date” scene … excuse for you to do some study of RA’s walking pattern 🙂 ). What also strikes me is that he walks with his hips quite externally rotated (ie feet turned out) which leads me to think (having worked in a hydrotherapy pool for a large part of my career) that if someone had taught him to do breaststroke before any other stroke, he may quite possibly have excelled in the water. I would also have added flippers (fins) to ensure a strong kick as most definitely his long and muscular legs would cause him to sink and he might have needed a little help to establish his equilibrium. His neck posture has always bothered me and I remember stating this on IMDb about two or more years ago describing Alexander as a possible technique to ensure he doesn’t suffer from neck pain … believe it or not he then mentioned Alexander in an interview a few months later .. (This was prior to him giving up reading the internet).

    On a particularly gratuitous note, I confess those laces have distracted me on more than one occasion and lol…. you may have read some similar fics to me in which they feature in some rather risque scenes that might bring a blush to the cheeks of the reader:)


    • Great comment. I learned a lot!

      1) Based on a few coincidences I’ve observed and some statements he’s made at different times, I do not believe that he has stopped reading the internet completely. I believe that he wishes to stop, and has resolved to stop reading it and succeeds intermittently. (Correlation is not causality, of course!)

      2) You should totally write a post about his posture, mulubinba! Not least because he varies it so much in different roles. The contrast between John Standring and Lucas North, for example.

      3) After I wrote that we don’t usually see him standing with hyperextended knees, it occurred to me of course that this particular contrapposto involves a knee hyperextension, and then I looked and found some other examples. I should probably amend this to read that I haven’t often seen him standing with the extreme hyperextension that I read as a sign of “showing off a relaxed masculinity” when I see it in the U.S. (i.e., knees hyperextended, pelvis protruding.) It was that weird photo that brought it to mind, because his stance almost looks, well, American, and that we don’t see so often.

      4) isn’t the turned out feet a classic dance posture? I often see his stance and think that he’s just about to spring into motion.

      5) I’ve watched his walk a lot, but only in the guise of different roles, and because it’s struck me that in the rare cases where his characterization is off, it happens in the walk. I have a list of examples, but I’ve been hesitating to write about them for various reasons. (Of course, if he doesn’t read the internet it wouldn’t matter.)

      5) the laces would definitely bear further analysis.


  6. PS: My post above was written with my tongue firmly in my cheek …lol… but I am a physio and Mr RA’s walk does intrigue me 🙂


  7. There’s an article where it states that he took up tap dancing at the age of four to correct pigeon toes…

    I must admit to noticing the way he walks too. Now how bizarre is that!


  8. I know I’d be interested in reading fanfic about the particular laces discussed above. Can anyone point me in the right direction? For research purposes only, you understand!


  9. @ MillyMe, here is a fanfic forum You need to be over 18 to join 🙂

    @ Kaprekar – thanks for letting us know about the tap danceing. Wherever did you see the article? I must recommend it to my little patients whose parents want me to correct pigon toes. To date I have suggested that they don’t “W” sit and I have a few exercises in my repertoire that are heavily disguised as games but I have never thought of tap. Excellent suggestion!!

    … and servitus, yes, the dancers all do have outwardly turned feet as do breaststrokers.

    RA’s posture a good idea for a post? Hmmm, that would mean quite a few screencapping exercises …lol. A study of those laces would be quite interesting … how many ways of tying them; can they be untied one handed? What are they made of? (The ones in S3 look like red boot laces .:) …. not that I have examined them closely, you understand …. ).


    • @ mulubinba, thanks for the tip . I’m definitely over 18 and then some, lol! I’ll need to find some quiet moments in the hustle and hustle of RL to examine these fascinating laces!


    • For some reason I missed this fanfic link back in June, but I have now joined that forum and wow!


  10. The turned outward feet do, indeed derive from the five basic ballet foot positions. For anyone who has had a bit of ballet, or any dance training, those positions help for balance, (and ankle strengthening?) as well as to aesthetics.

    Mulubinba? Think you are the expert here. Particularly in the issue of “pigeon-toes”.


  11. […] I wonder what would happen if he actually closed the coat. Also: make sure to take a look at what mulubinba identifies as the pronounced external rotation of the hips in his stride. Definitely gives Lucas that air of manly decisiveness. Promotional photo for Spooks 7.8. Source: […]


  12. […] half of Guy’s coat directly with the lines on his breeches. I’ve already considered how the bottom of the coat opens up just at the point of Guy’s laces, as if to point a visual arrow at his (cough) […]


  13. […] Suit slacks, from a distance, badly […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: