As a popular concept and trope in movies the ‘mother’ has always been investigated in various forms, from the more archetypical Archaic Mother in Alien to the funnier depiction of a distorted role, as the ‘cool mom’ in Mean Girls. Motherhood can be caring and loving, but also scary and gore, but which are the most iconic roles in terms of legacy and why their attitude determined a relevant cycle-breaking response?
Patricia Clarkson, as Margaret White in Carrie (1976)
The relationship between mother and daughter in this story is, as Barbara Creed wrote in The Monstrous Feminine, ‘a doomed mother-child dyad marked by repressed sexual desire.‘ Religion and patriarchal culture led Mrs White to believe that the womanization and self-determination of Carrie are more like a curse. Why is she iconic? Well, it takes a lot of pain to build a powerful witch able to set the world on fire.
Jennifer Lawrence, as mother in Mother! (2017)
In this biblical allegoric movie director Darren Aronofsky explored the point of view of the mother we all have in common: Mother Nature. This specific character is not exactly a cycle-breaker (if you’ve seen the film you know why), but in a meta-analysis we can tell she puts us in an uncomfortable situation, wondering ourselves what it’s wrong with us: it’s not what every mother does actually?
Anjelica Houston as Morticia Addams (1991)
Loving, smart, fierce and empathic. Morticia proves us that we can be a woman AND a mother, that our sexuality can be celebrated while being a caring guide for all the family. She’s the leader and the heart of the Addams, embodying all the feminine archetypes like no one else.
Michelle Yeoh as Evelyn Wang in Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Evelyn is the ultimate cycle-breaker. During her journey she understands that her struggles are a trauma-response also having an impact on her role as a mother. Jumping into every potential universe she learns how to go beyond patterns and social expectations, both healing her child-self and connecting on a deeper lever with her daughter. Definitely mum of the year.
Featured image: Mrs White / Carrie (1976)