Greetings Earthlings! 🙂
Today I’m going to talk to you about the portrayal of autism in the 1997 Canadian sci-fi horror film ‘Cube‘ (not the fun TV show! 😛 ).
I came across this (apparently) cult film last year when I was researching films featuring autism for a college assignment and decided to check it out.
The film focuses on a group of strangers who wake up in (surprise surprise) a giant cube comprised of a series of interconnecting rooms, each rigged with booby traps with the potential to kill the occupants of the cube. For example, there is a room that upon triggering a motion sensor will cause a wire grille to close in on the unwitting victim and slice them to pieces…
It’s a pretty grim film…
In order to leave, the group must work together to figure out how to escape their deadly prison and crack the puzzle that is the cube.
This film was definitely not my cup of tea (if I were a tea drinker! 😛 ), but hey if you’re into the sci-fi horror genre then check out the trailer and see what you think!
But what has this film got to do with autism?
Well, wouldn’t you know it, the invisible puppeteers who control the cube hand selected their prisoners so that they could combine their skills to navigate the maze, and who did they select? None other than an autistic savant…!
This character is key to the prisoners escape as his mathematical skills enable them to calculate how the cube moves so that they can navigate their way to the exit in relative safety…or so they thought!
Buuut I won’t spoil it for you in case you want to see it! 🙂
Sooo aside from yet another stereotypical mathematical savant, how is this films portrayal of autism?
The actor is actually pretty good showing lack of eye contact, stimming and repetitive movements, colour sensitivity etc.; however, once again I felt as though I was watching the same stereotypical character I’ve seen in dozens of films before.
Autism is a spectrum, each character we see on screen should be unique; but I guess Hollywood has yet to get the memo!
These scriptwriters seem to be stuck in a repetitive cube of their own! 😛 😉
Until next week Earthlings! 🙂
Also, it’s shown in the third movie that the character wasn’t autistic, but was a guy working for the organization behind the cube, who committed an act of treason and was basically submitted to a lobotomy before being released in the cube. So… yeah, you could say it’s pretty ableist.
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I just ignore the Cube sequels, since they were all made by other directors, and they are pretty bad. But yeah, that lobotomy thing is stupid.
I’m an Aspie and I enjoy the film mostly for its mystery/horror vibe and the relationships of the characters (since there is some kind of tension). In my opinion, the character of Kazan is stereotypical but his stims, meltdowns and sensory problems were shown realistically. The ending also makes it better. Yes, he’s a savant, but I’ve seen worse portrayals of autism. The Good Doctor for example really offends me.