There was a time when the only scientists you would see in feature films were men, and white men at that. But women scientists are finally getting the storylines they deserve. Yes we’ve had female scientists in past movies but their opportunities were limited, so it’s exciting to see this generation being given the centre stage.
Take the recently released science-horror Annihilation, for example. From its early scenes women scientists are at the forefront of the narrative, and (unnamed) men are quite literally blurred into the periphery, and guarding the perimeters.
The women in Annihilation are scientists but they are not framed as being unique or unusual because of this. Instead they are introduced as being part of a diverse community of scientists at the military/scientific Southern Reach facility. The source novel defines the women by profession, not name. They are the biologist, the psychologist, the anthropologist, and the surveyor. In the film adaptation, they are given names, presumably in an attempt to help the audience stay tuned in to what is happening in an otherwise depersonalised story.
When the team meets before entering the mysterious “shimmer”, Lena (played by Natalie Portman) remarks on the fact that they are “all women”. To which physicist Josie (Tessa Thompson) corrects her simply by saying: “Scientists.”
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