Are spine-chilling films always in demand because they help us dialogue with and about death? … In the past year, I’ve been focused on seeing films directed by women because I participated in the “52 Films by Women” initiative.
Check out all of the posts from our Bad Mothers Theme Week here.
Amelia didn’t need to be possessed to have feelings of vitriol towards her son; they were already there, lurking inside her at the beginning. Rarely, if ever, is a mother depicted in film this way. Mothers are expected to be completely accepting and loving towards their child 24/7, despite any hardships or challenges their child presents to them.
Most people I talked to and most of the reviews that I read about ‘The Babadook’ concluded that the film is about motherhood or mother-son relations. While I agree, I also really tuned in on the complicating element to this whole narrative, which is that the mother is mentally ill.
Few human beings are quite so stigmatized as bad mothers. Despite the fact that motherhood is demanded of women as an intrinsic part of the female experience, women who struggle with motherhood are seen and depicted as the worst kind of scum. No failure, it seems, is as great as that of a woman who is bad at being a mom…or, worse yet, who decides after having children that she no longer wants to be a mother.
Check out all of the posts for our Unlikable Women Theme Week here.
This is not to say that Amelia and Die are not sympathetic characters. Both want to do the best for their sons, but neither can handle the stress and actual responsibility of disciplining them. I do not mean for this to seem like an attack on Die and Amelia’s parenting skills, but rather a way to look at the sudden appearance of women in film who are not good at parenting.
Jennifer Kent: “I didn’t start with motherhood being the primary focus, but it is a very important part of the film, and I’m very adamant not to make this woman the evil mother. That’s why I placed the film very much inside her experience.”
Check out what we’ve been reading this week–and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
Firstly, ‘The Babadook’ complicates the depiction of women as primarily victims by presenting Amelia as a complex and multi-faceted figure. For one, she is a not a young big-breasted girl but a mother and fully grown woman. This is not necessarily groundbreaking in itself.