Bird Box: Why It’s a Significant One For the Mental Health Debate
The film Bird Box is basically the story of a woman, played by the Academy Award winner Sandra Bullock, and her two children fighting for their survival. It is a post-apocalyptic thriller film based on a 2014 novel of the same name. The film was initially screened on 12th November before becoming available for streaming on Netflix on 21st December 2018, and it reportedly caused quite a storm upon its release.
Apparently 45 million viewers saw the movie in merely one week’s time, setting an all-time new record for any movie streamed on Netflix within the first 7 days. And not just that, the movie also became victim to a flood of memes, generating further attention for the movie although not all of it has been positive.
While the R rating of the film should actually do the job somewhat and give parents an adequate heads-up to plan a Bird Box movie night in accordance with the age of their children, however, with a movie like Bird Box, many people have pointed out that the level of graphic content shown in the film may be too much for people of any age to bear, and hence perhaps there is really no point of placing a rating at the beginning of the film.
Hollywood’s Stance on Mental Illness
While Hollywood has often been criticized as being insensitive in its depiction of mental illnesses in films, it is being said that Bird Box may have taken such depiction to a whole new level. Without giving away too many spoilers, basically the movie is being accused of having depicted mental illness and people suffering from it as villains colluding with all that is evil in the world to cause ultimate chaos.
While this depiction may not be intentional, it still has managed to raise a lot of eyebrows as people are now highlighting it as a core issue with the plot of the film.
Critics and Their Two Cents
While the more obvious flaws being pointed out by critics in the film remain a poorly-written script, characters which could have been built more strongly, ineffective transitions between scenes, and complete waste of the skills of an Academy Award-winning actress, the stigmatization of mental health seems to be the final nail in the coffin for them.
The internet has obviously offered the most intense criticism, calling the depiction of mental health in the film as not only harsh but also a matter of extreme disappointment. Many people have questioned: how in a world where we fight every day for mental health awareness and boosting confidence in people suffering from mental illness, encouraging them to let go of the shame, can they accept this film?
The Movie’s Dilemma
Many people have also stated that it is still dubious to them what the movie aimed to portray. Was it about mental health and understanding how its perception varies from person to person, and also how the affect it can have on people cannot be standardized (since emotional sensitivity and mental strength is relative), or was it an indecent portrayal of mental health issues even more so as to run away from people suffering from it? It’s entirely possible it was none of the above, and people are simply trying to extract meaning out of a sci-fi thriller.
However, many people have also decided to cut the producers some slack as, at the end of the day, it’s just a movie after all. Yes, the film may have triggered certain audiences, but these days everything seems to be triggering everyone one way or another. Hence, it would only be fair to judge the film based upon its entertainment value and what it has to offer.
Bird Box currently has a user-generated rating of 6.8 on IMDb, which means that although it is a good movie, it is not among the best to have released in the past few months. However, considering the fact that it is a Netflix Original and has managed to fare so well among audiences around the world, Bird Box is an ode to the success Netflix has achieved in entering the production side of Hollywood.
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