Blindness (review)

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With films like City of God and The Constant Gardener, filmmaker Fernando Meirelles took the brutal and the base and flipped it around and threw it back to us swathed in a fierce, delicate beauty, as if to say: “Look at how the ugliness of humanity makes us special.” Which is a distressing thing to hear. He does it again with this unnerving trill on the classic sci-fi disaster movie: think an arthouse Day of the Triffids. One by one, everyone in an anonymous Everycity is going blind; fearing infection, government officials quarantine the first victims, which is where we linger with a group of equally anonymous everyfolk — a doctor (Mark Ruffalo: Reservation Road), his wife (Julianne Moore: I’m Not There), and others — as their microcosm of society collapses into savagery. Powerful enough would be watching the cracking of the eggshell-fragile connections between strangers — and the forging of new ones — but Meirelles also challenges what it means to “watch” a movie, when he puts us inside the terrifying experience of the newly blind. Some movies are hard to watch; this one, at times, is hard to listen to.

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Sat, Oct 04, 2008 11:29am

Sounds interesting…haha

So, are you saying that a significant portion of the running time is a black screen? Does it gradually get blurrier (in the disease and/or the movie) before it fades out or is it one minute you’re fine, the next minute there’s nothing?

In a theater with a nice speaker setup, I can see how you could make a black screen terrifying, but without a deliberate effort to communicate proximity or motion beyond volume, it seems like a very crude imitation of blindness, especially without any way to convey the sense of touch.

Do you think the experience will be significantly worse (moreso than the average movie) if it’s watched on a TV with a mediocre sound setup (i.e. mine)? It’s one thing to sit in an utterly dark theater with sounds buzzing around and through your head, and quite another to sit in a cheery living room with a blank screen screeching at you from behind the coffee table.

Maurice Webb
Maurice Webb
Mon, Oct 06, 2008 2:40am


(Is this a spoiler? – I’m not sure)

If you watch it on a TV, you won’t feel as immersed, which could be a good thing.

The film’s running time does not contain a significant amount of “black screen”, but there is an artfully portrayed, yet nonetheless soul-shatteringly horrifying segment that we are mercifully spared from experiencing visually.

Mon, Oct 06, 2008 7:14am

Do you mean the question about how quickly the onset of blindness is? I haven’t seen the movie or read anything other than some blurbs and this review, so I didn’t mean to give out any spoilers.

I was just guessing that putting us “inside the experience of the newly blind” means that the screen goes black for a while. It must be during a murder and/or rape from the way everyone is describing it. Don’t tell me though, that would definitely be a spoiler.

Tue, Oct 07, 2008 6:24am

It can’t be a black screen
in the book, it’s strongly emphasised that this is a WHITE blindness. there is a point to that as the story progresses.
can’t wait for this one, but it’s been pushed back to April 2009 in Australia.

Tue, Oct 07, 2008 9:48am

If that were true, wouldn’t most people rapidly suffer from dementia (and horrible headaches) and die within a week? I don’t think the human brain (espescially one accustomed to sight) is able to handle a constant visual signal at such a high level. I imagine it would be nearly impossible for them to fall asleep until their body eventually forced them to pass out for brief periods, which is extremely dangerous.

Maybe some kind of medication could suppress the vision center of their brain long enough for them to sleep a little? Well, now that you’ve got me curious, I’ll go ahead and read the book. Hopefully it isn’t completely depressing; I get enough of that from the news.