A blindfolded woman, accompanied by two young children, with their eyes just bound, leads a rowing boat down a fast flowing river with trees penetrating each side.
It was this picture that attracted the attention of Susanne Bier, director of the Emmy winner "The Night Manager" and the Oscar winner "In a Better World", which led her to take the helm of "Bird Box", the horror movie with Sandra Bullock, who had a short theater performance in several areas earlier this month, and is now available for streaming across the world on Netflix.
But when Bier first read the script seven years ago, she went, like Bullock. What changed at that time, she told Variety in London, on her way to her homeland, was the political and social "atmosphere" and the heightened threat feeling that permeates the world. "It feels more relevant now; it feels like a more dystopic point in time," she explains.
[SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on if you haven’t seen the film yet; this article contains spoilers.]
"Bird Box" depicts a society that is terrorized by a malevolent entity – which we should never see ourselves – that makes people feel suicidal if they look at it, therefore Bullock needs to bind and the cause of her dangerous journey along the river in Search for a sanctuary from the demonic power.
The character Bullock portrays, Malorie, does not match the traditional image of motherhood – nourishing and mild. This is a warrior mother who defends his young youth, both by the evil force and the marauding gangs of disturbed individuals who are immune to suicide impulses that afflict ordinary folk. So reluctantly she is embracing her mother's standards, she hasn't even given her children's names – instead she calls them "boy" and "girl".
"When I read the script I felt, there was the potential to portray another picture of motherhood than is usually portrayed. I guess I've always felt that motherhood is mainly defined by men, and for hundreds of years it is automatically considered To be soft, caring, naturally nourishing, calm, she says. "There are many things that are part of our idealized motherhood vision, but I always thought it was much more complicated, much more cruel … I think so is what Sandra gives it. "
Towards the end of the film there is a central scene when Malorie is forced to change the way she treats her children if they are to survive. "I think [the shift] It's about understanding what [motherhood] suggests. She is starting to be a reluctant pregnant woman – she has a hard time dealing with pregnancy, but generally has difficulty managing the world. And then she goes through insane and sometimes quite horrible things, and eventually she embraces motherhood and somehow gets to embrace life. "
Bier adds: "She understands it by being so tough with [the children] She ignores something they need, which is [the permission] to dream – she has closed some dreams, and she has done it herself. It was a mistake and she is kind to apologize for it. "
Bier admits that Malorie is "very hard" with the kids, but this is a natural answer to the threats facing them. Bees themselves occasionally admit shows of aggression and defense capabilities when she feels her own children are at risk. "I think it's the kind of aggressive forcefulness [in motherhood] it has not been shown [in movies] a lot, she says. What is the cause of this omission? "Well, partly because men had the platform to show what [motherhood] was, and apparently, it was not how they wanted to see it. Maybe it's a little scary picture. Being powerful may not be so sweet, she says.
Filming the "Bird Box" presented many challenges, such as having two children actors in many of the central scenes, and shooting the river sequences on the Smith River in California, especially when the boat down the rapids. Needless to say, the stunt body doubles were distributed, but even though the design of these scenes required a crew of about 300 and thorough planning to ensure the safety of those involved, and to ensure that the scenes were as exciting as the script required.
Another challenge was the use of the blindfolds in many scenes and the limitations that lie on the actor's ability to express themselves. This was especially a challenge for Bullock "because she goes through such emotional runways," says Bier. "It's a bit like telling a painter that we should remove your brushes away now – create us a great painting because the eyes are brushing on an actor, and it's a big deal to lose it. "
Another challenge was the need to maintain the excitement, and in order to do so, Bier decided not to show the monster, which has been criticized for a few quarters – not least by VarietyOwn reviewer Peter Debruge. "The biggest artistic challenge was how to maintain the excitement and not reveal anything," she says. "I've always felt the moment before you see that the monster was super scary and suspicious, and I wanted the whole movie to get that sense of excitement."
Bees found Netflix to be a supportive and committed player of the movie. "You're not dealing with a scared owner of the project; you're dealing with a bold owner, and there's a big difference to a filmmaker," she says. "You're dealing with [a company] It is more interested in doing something that is significant than something that automatically falls into a particular pattern. The better the better. It is exciting. "
Bier applauder support streaming platforms that Netflix has provided to the cinema. "No one other than streaming services will fund innovative cinema, and then we need to find a way to apply that synergy."
She is pleased that her movie had a theatrical release, but disagrees with Cannes' decision to exclude Netflix movies from its competition section this year. "I believe the current rules [at Cannes] is out of touch with reality and [the festival] has not embraced the way the entire medium moves, she says.
Bier is one of the world's leading female directors, and an avid advocate of increasing female representation behind the camera. "I've never been to quotas [for women directors] but I come to the point where I am for it, she says. "It must be a deliberate decision – if you have two qualified candidates, you must choose the woman. And for the female filmmakers, they have to rely on themselves. They should not be thrown by male arrogance and male dismissal, and men have to open a little. "
She does not believe that women have a different approach to filmmaking for men. "I think it's very individual. I don't really think it's a male or female way of doing anything. It's a very personal way of doing things," she says. Instead, she says that every single person is different, and by restricting access to the director's chair to just half the world's population, you exclude the full range of experiences and perspectives for each individual artist.
Next up to Bier is HBO's six-part series "The Undoing", created by David E. Kelley, with Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland. What attracted her to the project was "a very good script," she says. For Bees, this has always been the primary factor. "The script must be seductive." Beyond that, she is happy to keep an open mind. After directing "The Night Manager", she would be eager to lead more "spy things" and presumably that would include James Bond if she were offered the opportunity. Apart from that, she says she would be "curious" to direct a time drama she has never done, and would like to do more comedies, after previous leaves like "Love is all you need." But she prefers not to know what will happen next in her career … the life of Bier is an adventure.