Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

Maternal Blunt

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When reading Williams’ essay, I was reminded of talking with my mom about the climax in Rian Johnson’s Looper. In the scene, Emily Blunt stands in front of Bruce Willis’ gun, sacrificing herself to save her fleeing, psycho-problem child(who is actually an über terrorist in the future, or something…). My mom hated that the screenwriting presented supposedly genuine female characters that gained strength and power solely through motherhood and self-sacrifice. Williams introduces; the concept of “maternal pathos” in relation to woman’s films, stating “a well-known classic is the long-suffering mother of the two early versions of Stella Dallas who sacrifices herself for her daughter’s upward mobility(607).[my italics]” The inclusion in Looper proclaims a perceived awareness that posits mother as hero, her sacrifice also her power. The film takes satisfaction in acknowledging the maternal form as “superior” to the vapid, beautiful, physical object form, but doesn’t inform of feminine strength derived from other sources. The film remains satisfied with this perceived “layered” portrayal of maternal femininity, discounting the presence of the trope as its “action” genre deters thorough viewer scrutiny that might be activated in the viewership of specifically “body genre” films, i.e. weepies.


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