A flight to Mars is more than a business trip
A heroine in the very classic sense: Proxima by Alice Winocour
The Franzsin Alice Winocour has not yet made that many films, but has already received quite a few awards for them. Her main themes are femininity and the situation of young girls.
Winocour has also had great success with scripts for other female directors. One film has to be highlighted: the Turkish film Mustang, which won the European Film Prize and the Oscar a few years ago. There we find a clear relationship to her new, third and most important directorial work to date Proxima. Mustang is about sisters, young girls between the ages of, roughly speaking, eight and sixteen. They are oppressed and, as it were, held captive by older women in the repressive agrarian society of the Turkish present. The whole thing shows a very special sense for children and adolescents. This is what they have in common with Proxima, where we meet the eight-year-old daughter of a space traveler as the second main character.
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Although the space film genre knows more about the male hero, there are still some classics in space with rather intrepid women: Sigourney Weaver, for example, who has to do with a monstrous alien as a lonely fighter. Now come with me Proxima another film about women in space to the cinema. Whereby director Alice Winocour is more concerned with the time before: Not just physical and organizational issues, but also family issues. Because astronaut Sarah has a little daughter, from whom she will be separated for a year when she flies to Mars. And from which she is already separated in places due to quarantine regulations in the preparation phase and is then only allowed to communicate with her through a glass wall
For the first time, the theme of the film is this mother-daughter relationship and several variants of being a woman. Because it’s also about: What does femininity mean? The young girl, the daughter, has a very close relationship with her mother because the parents are separated. That means: the mother is the main reference person, and the film is also about how the little girl projects herself into the mother; even in their dreams.
Because this mother has a big dream. She dreams of being the first female astronaut to fly to Mars. So, just like family, it’s also about career, about the good, the right thing about a woman’s career. It’s about a woman in a man’s world and the guilty conscience that one has to shed. To the problem: How do you combine work and family?
It is about the tension between very earthly questions on the one hand and space as a projection space for dreams and phantasms.
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It’s always nice to see and learn things in films that you haven’t seen before. Here you actually get the efforts and the very pragmatic, very everyday aspects of space operations demonstrated and brought closer. This simply involves a lot of bureaucracy, as well as weeks and months of training, which also has quite a few sides. There are also press conferences. And it is part of what it all means for the family, which has to make many sacrifices. Especially if the mother is a single parent and then flies to Mars for a whole year. This is more than a normal business trip.
One could say: space travel is being demythed a bit and generalized. Space travel is, in a certain sense, a completely normal profession today. But at the same time it is just the case that space travel is something special. And this film does not lose sight of the aura, the mythical, what space travel touches, what touches leaving the earth. To do this, he keeps sharpening our minds.
This film clearly has a feeling that space travel is something really great, something beautiful and still something very, very special and extraordinary. Who would have thought that sixty or seventy years ago that this would be possible? And this sense of possibility (Robert Musil) and this feeling for crossing an existential threshold is what this film arouses in any case. This also includes the film music by the very famous Japanese composer Ryuji Sakamoto, which also reinforces this auratic and pathetic element.
The space traveler, played by Eva Green, who sets off for Mars, is also a heroine. A heroine in a very classic sense. She risks her life, she puts it on the line for an idea. One can even think of characters from Greek mythology and the classic hero’s journey. But Sarah is a modern woman at the same time – and that they go together, that one does not claim that if a woman is a heroine, then she must be completely different from the male heroes. No! She can be just like the male heroes, she can also have similar dreams, seek fame and satisfy narcissism. That this succeeds and is not morally problematized is something very special.