Suicide, Dangers to Self and Social Bodies: Taboo, Biopower, and Parental Worry in the Films Bridgend (2015) and Bird Box (2018)


  • Heidi Kosonen University of Jyväskylä



In my article I study two Anglophone feature films, Jeppe Rønde's Bridgend (2015) and Susan Bier's Bird Box (2018), from the viewpoints offered by visual cultural studies and the theoretical domains of taboo and biopower. Both systems of control respond to risks and dangers to society, taboo through ideas of contagion and biopower through normative, especially medical discourses by authorized instances of knowledge production. They are reflected also in the audio-visual popular culture seeking to make sense of suicide through entertaining and artistic means. The two films I study present suicide as a contagion that has supernatural (Bird Box) and social origins (Bridgend), and as a force of nature that threatens individuals from the outside yet also from within as madness (Bird Box), or as irrationality or vulnerability of youth (Bridgend). By analyzing suicide's representation in both films, I discuss the ways western thinking trying to fathom voluntary death reflects senses of danger attached to suicide under taboo and biopower and in response to the humane emotions of love and fear of loss. I also discuss how taboo and biopower can be seen to generate this threat to individual lives by their suppression of living and dying.