I recently found out about a new movie that has just come out in the U.S, and was very disturbed. It is entitled “Blindness,” and is based on a novel by a Portuguese Author named Jose Saramago. The National Federation for the Blind strongly objects to this film and has been protesting it throughout the nation since before its release on October 3rd. You can read their official press release, which is very well written and begins to explain why there are such strong feelings about this “work of art.” You can also read several comments from some who have seen it, just to get an idea of the differing opinions.
Some of the details of this movie are very disturbing and I won’t go into it here. Basically, the whole premise for this movie is fear. Blindness in the story is a contageous virus, which has the world in a pannicked standstill. It seems that the Author is utterly terrified of blindness and what he thinks it means for people. According to the movie, if you are blind, or become blind, you are incapable of living a normal life. You should be institutionalized, fed, dressed, and kept from the outside world because hey, if your eyes don’t work, neither do any of your senses, namely your common sense. I actually feel sorry for Saramago, if he thinks being without sight is so horrible. The root of fear is ignorance, and he obviously has no idea what it really means to be blind. Life doesn’t end; you don’t become a raving maniac or crazy. You still are concerned with personal hygine, even when you cannot see yourself and those around you can’t see you. Humans are much more adaptable and smarter than he gives us credit for. And no, blindness is not God’s way of punishing someone.
In my view, blind people, and really anyone with a disability, are many times put into a stereotype. This movie will only add to many views of blind or disabled people, and thus may have an impact on our ability to be accepted in society, obtain employment, or live life to its fullest! One would hope that a person’s opinion or view of blindness would not be shaped by such a thing, but unfortunately, so many are impressionable to whatever is out there in movies and media. If it’s on a screen, it must be true and accurate; SOME WOULD EVEN TAKE IT AS FACTUAL.
I haven’t actually paid my good hard earned money to see this creation, but I decided to read the book, just to get an idea of the basis for the film. I’m about halfway through and so far, I find it offensive and degrading as both a blind person and a woman. In the novel, blind people are put into quarantine and treated like common criminals. They begin to exhibit behaviors of caged animals, and it becomes an “every man for himself” scenario. Human beings become vile, stealing and willing to kill each other for personal gain. Fear reigns and chaos is unleashed.
There seems to be no substance to the novel, no real plot development, just the sad state of human beings that suddenly find themselves without sight. There was no research done, no attempt to portray any true behaviors of a blind person, just a lot of twisted scenes of inhumanity and torture. Several times so far, blind people are compared to dogs, where individuality and identity are unimportant. The Author never even gives his characters names!! The government locks them away, lets them govern themselves and kill each other. After all, the fewer of them the better, according to government. Is this how blind people are viewed by this man? I haven’t reached the end of the book yet, but it is suggested that everyone gets their sight back by some miracle, so all is well again. Maybe once I finish I can find some redeeming qualities… maybe.
If you read the user comments linked to above, you’ll see that some scenes in the movie were so disturbing that many movie goers were dissatisfied and disgusted enough to walk out during the film. Am I going overboard here? I know this is not a personal attack, and yet it feels that way. I can joke around about blindness with the best; humor is part of breaking the ice for me. But I don’t find this portrayal humorous; I don’t know that I’m supposed to. What do you think? I would love to hear any comments on either side!!
Here is just one example so far of the kind of opinions that are out there and the ignorance of some, that will only be increased by this film!