Directed by: Fernando Meirelles
Produced by: Niv Fichman
Written by: Don McKellar
Narrated by: Danny Glover
Music by: Uakti
Editing by: Daniel Resende
Distributed by:Miramax Films (USA)
Alliance Films (Canada)
20th Century Fox (BRA)
Release Date: October 3, 2008
It was a regular business day, people hurrying about their own business, cars commuting here and there like an endless stream of river. Right in front of an intersection a car suddenly stopped, commotion ensued, horns banged, people shouting, oblivious to the fact that a man inside the car, a Japanese expatriate had suddenly gone blind.
Blindness (2008) is a dramatic thriller based on an award winning novel of the same name by Jose Saramago. The film it self is written by Don McKellar and directed by Fernando Meirelles.
It is necessary to say that I have never read the novel before, so the resemblance between the text and the film is none of my concern for the time being, the film caught my attention because it delivered a theme that amuse me most: people and suffering. How people cope with their own suffering and how they perceive the pain of others. Also, at the very edge of it, how long can people survive until they snap and cease to act as human being.
The earlier portion of the film is devided in to several scenes, telling stories of several people, how they got “infected” by blindness, and how they all finally stuffed in to a ward. The people on the scenes came from different backgrounds, I found it as a typicallity for most of the stories these days.
A Japanese man (Yusuke Iseya), from the moment he got blind inside his car, delivered to his apartment by a dubious man (Don McKellar), lost his car, and meet a doctor (Mark Ruffalo). Then started from the wating room of his practice, the contagion seems to spread. An eccentric working girl (Alice Braga), wearing sunglasses all the time except for bathing and swimming, and an old man with an eye-patch (Danny Glover), and a boy (Mitchell Nye). From there, the number multiplied.
One by one, group by group, they were taken to a quarantine facility, separated in to wards. One by one they started to snapped. The commoners became thugs, and the villains became devils. Events occured that peaked when the inhabitant of Ward 3 decided to put the fate of the rest of the facility in to their own hand, lead by the self proclaimed King of Ward 3 (Gael Garcia Bernal). People started to pay for their limited ransom, first with their belonging, then by supplying the women as sex toys for the resident of Ward 3 who were curiously happen to be an all-male group. A woman died there just because she didn’t “move”.
Unbeknown to virtually all of the people in the quarantine facility the doctor’s wife (Julianne Moore) was immune to the pleague, and she has been the eye for her husband and people of her ward since the beginning. Deciding to put an end to the carnage caused by the King of Ward 3, she killed him amid an orgy and released some women that came from another ward.
This film was an opening act in Cannes Film Festival and was not widely accepted. One of the reason was the violent sex scenes in the middle of the film (which then edited to make it short). The film also sparked protests by several organizations representing the blind community, mainly National Federation of the Blind represented by its President, Dr. Marc Maurer, who said that “The National Federation of the Blind condemns and deplores this film, which will do substantial harm to the blind of America and the world.” A press release from the American Council of the Blind said ”… it is quite obvious why blind people would be outraged over this movie. Blind people do not behave like uncivilized animalized creatures.” To all of these acts and some other Jose Saramago responded: “Stupidity doesn’t choose between the blind and the non-blind.”
Indeed. I say a movie is a movie, it tells stories, and like all of human’s conceptions, filled with flaws. Different people with different background would respond differently to certain kind of work. Some people wouldn’t even bother to watch this film, for its lack of “action”, some people watch movies bringing their own purposes, easy entertainment is the word to sell these days.
However, this film is anything but such. For me it presented a tale where normality became awry, and people tried to cope up with it, level by level, learning new tragic reality each day, and try to make it normal in their own way. The problem is, when people are too absorbed in their own quest of survival it is bothering, but not surprising, what they can do to other human being. The concept of good and evil that has been formed in to each person becomes the currency and the exchange rate fluctuated like the ocean waves.
There are many interesting scenes that depicted more meaning than meets the eye. The doctor’s position as the all knowing backbone of the family early in the movie turned in to a man who are completely dependent to his wife toward the rest of it. The Japanese man, the first blind man in the movie, separated from his wife (Yoshino Kimura), meet her again at the ward only by the hint of her voice, both reached out together through the gap of “white blind”. The thief who gave the evidence that he has been a man that act through desperations. The woman with sunglasses, a prostitute who managed to find comfort and love throughout the ordeals, and her motherly love to the boy who lost his mother. And the man with eyepatch, just somewhat prooving his theories of human being.
There are many other interesting characters here and there, and played quite neatly by everyone. The ordinary personage that would embody any of us in such weird circumstances that we have never seems to be prepared for. But for me the center stage goes to Julianne Moore, ever brilliant, Moore is a solid performer. I can feel the weight of her character’s desperation, anger, her isolation as the only person with normal sight, and the satisfaction of vengeance, through the film. As she took an exit after killing the King of Ward 3, and shouted threats to the natural blind man, I bent in satisfaction.
I suppose the film has been showing enough effort to bring out the theme and essence of the story, it’s not about blind people, it’s about people, the whole population became blind and how they, supposedly we, would behave in such realization that all of us are blind within the same case. Some people would try to take advantage, some would try to balance their comprehension. It’s us in our natural ways, in a shocking circumstance. I would say that the accusation by the organization that represent the blind community was not completely correct. It’s about human being blind and try to comprehend anything that they can make out through their senses.
As the writer Jose Saramago said: “Stupidity doesn’t choose between the blind and the non-blind.”
Blindness is my movie for 2008, amid it’s awkwardness and lacks, it’s quite natural and it shows that anyone of us is blind in certain ways.
Intended Viewers: Adult
Relative Viewing Factor: 8/10
Relative Satisfaction Factor: 9/10
Relative Value: 8/10
Relative Blackenedgreen Score: 9/10