According to the New York Film Academy, no matter the archetype, it cannot be denied that mothers play a huge role in some of history’s biggest films...so when Sandra Bullock calls for motherhood to be properly represented on screen in the real world, her request could be monumental if set in motion.
Bullock feels that presently, mothers are portrayed as less than complex. The Hollywood A-Lister, producer, and philanthropist declares that unconventional female roles demand more prevalence in film and her upcoming role signifies a raw depiction of a disconnect from the time-honored role of motherhood.
Bullock will play single mom, Malorie in the much anticipated Apocalyptic thriller Bird Box, vastly modifying the complacent perception of mothers in the film industry. Although Bullock explains the character of Malorie is somewhat unnatural in terms of societal expectations about what are normal inclinations for a mother, at the same time her role is impactful as it causes us to question what in fact is a natural and valuable representation of a mother.
Bird Box, from Academy Award winner Susanne Bier, follows the story of Malorie (Bullock), a woman who is trying desperately to save her family from a mysterious force that kills you upon making eye contact with it. Terrified and blindfolded, Malorie and her kids venture into the forest and face some perilous danger to find the one place left offering sanctuary.
Malorie’s overall nature in the film is uncaring and Bullock admits that she felt uncomfortable in this role. In an opening scene, her character is frantically allocating stern coaching to her disheveled, young children in their home - a messy cabin. Malarie, lacking in warmth or kindness the classic tenderness indicative of mothering is defunct. In Style explains, “..my gut instinct was to assume “mother” but Bullock's chilly distance gave me pause. I was still immediately intrigued by a woman whose tone would be so harsh with five-year-olds even while her actual words seem geared to ensuring their survival”. It’s exactly the hesitation that Bullock hopes to create in an audience - to question our conventional perceptions of mothers.
For years, Bullock who has been known to advocate for women in film actually found herself feeling “hopeless” - she struggled with this role on an intimate level. As a mother herself of two adopted children, she was uncomfortable playing an uncaring mother. Despite admitting that at times the role made her feel weak she realized that shattering the “fairytale” idea that all women are natural mothers took precedence over any awkwardness.
Overall, Bullock feels the need to change the face of film in terms of the ‘fairytale makeup’ as a whole,”...what a family looks like, what a partnership looks like, what a mother looks like, what a father looks like”. Gender stereotypes are changing all over the world but she believes it has yet to be broached in film. There is no doubt that Bullock will be one of many powerful women inspiring change.
Ocean’s 8 had eight brilliant, female leads - Bullock being one of them. The film’s co-writer and direct, Gary Ross explains the significance if the film.“These are eight distinct women from eight distinct backgrounds, and that closely resembles what the world looks like. It’s not just what Hollywood has made the world look like. That diversity was intentional, and important to us that it looked like the world. This group of people needed to be very, very representative.” Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s 8) sums it up, "You can't underestimate the power of visual representation”.