Bird Box explained: what’s Netflix movie really about

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This article explains the events and the meaning of Bird Box, the horror movie on Netflix, revealing crucial elements of the plot. We recommend you to read it only after watching the movie, and not before, in order to preserve the pleasure of the first vision.

Horror has always been an avant-garde of the cinematographic technique, and it proved its nature in the history. It’s always the first to experiment new ways to communicate with the viewer, and the latest phenomenon of the genre, the Netflix-produced Bird Box, is a good example: a movie that intrigued everyone at the time of the release, which has produced hundreds of memes that transformed it into a viral thing (Vox has recently summed it up), able even to drag people into the infamous #BirdBoxChallenge, according to which people perform normal daily activities blindfolded like in the movie, a dangerous practice that required also a public message from Netflix.

The film, directed by Susanne Bier with Sandra Bullock and John Malkovich, is about a post-apocalyptic scenario where, for reasons that are not explained, those who look at the world see terrible things that lead them immediately to commit suicide. It’s a representation of the fear for what is not explained, and in fact the threat is not explicited in the film. But the film is also a metaphor of the struggle to survive in a world where life becomes impossible: the protagonist is a mother who tries to save two children in that hostile world, in a role that reflects the attempt to save humanity (represented by next generation) from the degeneration of a world that’s going to end. At the same time, the movie sends also a positive message towards disability. Who is blind is actually protected from evil, and that has also a philosophical dimension: full knowledge and total experience is not salvation, but the sacrifice probably is. The sacrifice of something that, theoretically, is in our practical possibilities.

The film is inspired from the eponymous book by Josh Malerman, but it has a big difference in the final: while the film ends with the mother and the children reaching a school for blind people immersed in a forest, a place where everybody seems safe from the danger, in the book the survivors in the sanctuary decided to live the rest of their life blindfolded, to protect themselves from evil. The book therefore leaves no escape, while the film offers a positive note, explained by the director in this way:

The movie is slightly more positive. The movie is, in many aspects, different from the book, but it’s also very rooted in the book. The book also has a kind of positive ending and I would not have wanted to do an apocalyptic movie that didn’t have a hopeful ending. I’m not particularly interested for the audience to leave, from the cinema or their own screen, with a kind of completely bleak point of view. That’s not really what I believe in…There is a hopeful note in certain values that I really appreciate it. And I thought that was hugely important.

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