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Does the film Gravity with Sandra Bullock mark a significant change in the film industry and ageism?

sandra bullock in gravityArticle by Ceri Wheeldon

Retailers may be slow to react to the spending power of the over 50s, but has the film industry recognised our demographic as the one to be listened to?

We often complain about the lack of women over 50 on out TV screens, but it seems to not be the case on the big screen.

In 2013 we have seen some fabulous films with actresses near or over 50 playing some meaty roles.  W are used to seeing Helen Mirren and Judi Dench on screen, mostly playing the film’s matriarch, but this year we have seen women in midlife play a different sort of role. Susan Sarandon in Arbitrage played the wronged wife who really came into her own. Emma Thompson in Saving Mr Banks,  Oprah Winfrey in The Butler. Sandra Bullock at 49  may not be quite 50, but her portrayal as an astronaut in the film Gravity showed a women at her peak of physical and mental fitness. Interestingly, when I went to see Gravity, the audience was mostly young men, happily sitting watching the film wearing 3D glasses – proving that placing actresses in this age group in lead roles does not limit the audience.  For those who have not seen Gravity, Sandra Bullock (playing opposite George Clooney) is an astronaut/scientist who is stranded in space when debris from A Russian satellite destroys their space station. As those around her fall by the wayside she has to use every last ounce of strength and ingenuity to find a way home. With no contact with NASA, the only help comes from inner resources.

Sandra Bullock was outstanding in the role.

Changing perceptions of age

With the cost of cinema tickets (£25 for 2 adults to see this film) , taking a family to see a film, by the time you factor in snacks, or even for young parents who leave the children behind with the added cost of a babysitter, an outing to see a film on the big screen becomes a treat rather than an everyday occurrence for most. The over 50s with fewer restrictions are the ones with the time- and the money- to go. We want to see films that we relate to- with actors and actresses in our age group playing meaty roles. It’s Complicated with Meryl Streep paved the way.

Let’s hope Gravity is taking us one step further in the right direction!

Changing perceptions of age – one role and one film at a time!



Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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