Barefoot and pregnant, onscreen

The Self-Styled Siren’s having a baby and, catching the proper blogging spirit, does an informed, hilarious rundown of pregnancy in the movies. It’s a little scary to note that she finds Rosemary’s Baby to be one of the most accurate depictions of being knocked up that cinema has given to us:

So it was a bit of a surprise to find that Rosemary got so much right about pregnancy. There is the way people infantilize a pregnant woman–everyone pats you on the head and tells you everything is normal, no matter how freaking weird you feel or what your body happens to be doing. There is the advice coming at you from all directions, and the way you feel obligated to at least try it all, even if it’s coming from some gnomelike woman whom you’ve just met. The movie has the husband, too, happy and encouraging but unable to identify with any of your physical symptoms. And there is the crushing fear that something might go wrong, or worse, that something IS going wrong, and no one will listen to you. Most of all, the movie taps into the worst part, the irrational fear that jolts you awake at 2 a.m. as you try to find a comfortable position and fall back asleep–“What if I give birth to a monster?”

And of course, the cleverness is that for once, the fears are true.

My personal favorite is in a movie that’s not ostensibly about childbirth at all–Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who really was about six months along at the time of filming, waddles and groans and perspires her way through her narrative. At the movie’s beginning, she’s loose, funny, and naive in a way that she rarely gets to be onscreen; by the end, she’s a hardened, calculating drug lord. That’s one hell of a hormonal change.

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. He is the co-author (with Daniel Couch) of Bob Mould's Workbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). His work has been published in The Quarterly Conversation,, Bookslut (RIP), The Comics Journal, The Baseball Chronicle, and other periodicals. Twitter: @walter_biggins.
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One Response to Barefoot and pregnant, onscreen

  1. Campaspe says:

    OMG, I forgot Traffic! Yes, you are right. And of course CZJ slides into evil on the outside, while the baby on the inside grows, innocent and unaware …
    Thank you so much for the link, it is appreciated.

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