Unlike its characters we kept our eyes wide open throughout Netflix’s Bird Box, along with surrounding coverage of lead cast members like Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes. Here are 6 fun facts about Bird Box you’ll no longer be blind to.
1. Mallory Reads a Book on Piranesi
Early on we see Sandra Bullock / Mallory take her mind off societal doom by reading a large art book on 18th-century Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi. Piranesi was well-known for architectural drawings and became most renowned for his ‘Imaginary Prisons’ series of unsettling prints. (Remember, she’s stuck in an architect’s house.)
Piranesi produced 16 separate prints showcasing gigantic and surreal prison-like structures, evoking senses of incarceration, dread, and wonder.
Was Piranesi included because his works act as some sort of metaphor to Bird Box? Is it that a world can seem so normal yet be so off at the same time? We know that Mallory is an artist herself, maybe she was just seeking some inspiration.
2. Mallory Reads ‘Cabinet of Natural Curiosities’
The second and only other book we see Mallory read throughout Bird Box is Cabinet of Natural Curiosities by Albertus Seba.
Referred to as “one of the 18th century’s greatest natural history achievements” and “one of the most prized natural history books of all time”, the book is a beautiful hand-drawn catalogue of every animal, plant, and insect Seba was able to collect over his lifetime. (An unprecedented amount for his era.)
Besides being a useful tool for naturalists, the book was an art piece in its own right. Certain plates were drawn with different animals and plants mixed together, an unheard of practice at the time for these sorts of collections. There are even drawings which depict mythical dragons. (By all accounts Seba never owned dragons…)
Was Mallory brushing up on her natural world knowledge knowing she may end up stuck in the wilderness? Was she trying to research more info on suicide-inducing gusts of wind and leaves? Natural Curiosities does mix the scientific with the supernatural at times. Is it another type of metaphor? Hmm…
3. The actors were actually blind…
There’s no easier way to act blind than to be blind, right? The blindfolds worn by the cast of Bird Box did in fact prevent them from seeing, and stars Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes had theirs on for at least 50% of the time spent on set.
This presented a lot of unique challenges in filming, as the camera crew would often have to dodge the actors as they would get disoriented and lose track of where they were. It wasn’t uncommon for a shot to be ruined by a bumped camera, Bullock was cut once from having walked directly into one. Fortunately, the kids blindfolds were kept relatively transparent.
4. Gary puts on a symphony by Joseph Haydn while going full psycho…
Just as he’s preparing to unveil his full degree of crazy to everyone in the house, Gary gleefully puts on a record by famed 18-century classical composer Joseph Haydn. Haydn earned a reputation in his time as being a sort of musical trickster, because his works included things such as loud musical ‘jump scares’ and false endings. The track Gary puts on, Symphony no 47., has entire sections that sound the exact same when played back in reverse.
It’s not much of a surprise that master troll Gary loves Haydn so much and that he decided to let everyone in on his twisted secret while jamming out to his tunes.
5. Bird Box is set in Crescent City, California.
Although it’s never mentioned by name, the makers of Bird Box don’t really try to hide its setting. The action takes place in Crescent City, California (Pop. 6,400) and was filmed there as well. The rough river that Mallory must boat along is the real-life Smith River, and all the names seen on the SUV’s mapping software are actual street names in Crescent City. (Although the street layouts have been changed.)
6. Sandra Bullock Knew Nothing About Rowing
Just like Mallory never had an opportunity to practice rowing before the end of the world, neither did Sandra Bullock. Similarly to making sure the actors were truly blind, director Susanne Bier thought it would make sense to have Sandra Bullock learn to operate the rowboat on the fly. All the boating scenes were filmed in chronological order, so what we see in the film is Sandra Bullock actually figuring out how to row for the first time and getting better as she went along, just like Mallory would have.
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