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Square-jawed strength: gender and resilience in the female astronaut film

Purse, L. (2019) Square-jawed strength: gender and resilience in the female astronaut film. Science Fiction Film and Television, 12 (1). pp. 53-72. ISSN 1754-3770

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This article studies a specific and relatively under-examined manifestation of the ‘strong female protagonist’ trope in science fiction – that of the female astronaut. From the late 1990s to the present this figure has proliferated in films like Event Horizon (Paul W. S. Anderson, U.S., 1997), Mission to Mars (Brian De Palma, U.S., 2000), Red Planet (Antony Hoffman, U.S., 2000), Supernova (Walter Hill as Thomas Lee, U.S., 2000), Sunshine (Danny Boyle, U.S., 2007), Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron, U.S., 2013), Europa Report (Sebastian Cordero, U.S., 2013), Interstellar (Christopher Nolan, U.S., 2014), Life (Daniel Espinosa, U.S., 2017), and The Cloverfield Paradox (Julius Onah, U.S., 2018). Yet there are some striking consistencies of visual depiction that are sustained across the period, particularly in the close-ups that capture the female astronaut at work, and which also seek to express her strength and resilience. Drawing together detailed analysis of specific films and writing on gender in science fiction and on the face in cinema, I will explore why such a consistent visual treatment recurs in these space-set science fiction films, and the extent to which these fictional women remain marked by historically gendered ideas about strength, competence, bodily integrity, and access to space technologies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Arts and Communication Design > Film, Theatre & Television
ID Code:81590
Uncontrolled Keywords:female astronaut, female representation, space, cinema, science fiction
Publisher:Liverpool University Press


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