[IMDB link] [Netflix link] I heard about this movie via blind people protesting it. You gotta love how these people complaining, in conjunction with The Streisand Effect, put money into the hands of their enemies. More on that later.
PEOPLE: That was Julianne Moore?!?!? That explains her being both older and supremely hot.
Director Fernando Meirelles has done nothing I’ve ever seen before, and mostly foreign films. I’d say this was a great foray into the American mainstream for him, and hope he makes some money off of this.
Mark Ruffalo (who was in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) stars as the male lead.
QUIRKS: No characters are ever named, to my knowledge. IMDB doesn’t list any names either.
MORALS: Everyone goes blind. Julianne Moore pretends to be blind so that she can be quarantined with her husband. At first I think it’s a mistake: “If you really love him, don’t get infected! You’ll be able to take better care of him if you can see!” But then, later, it becomes apparent that had she not pretended to be blind, her husband would have been much worse off; maybe even dead. This echoes the moral of Right At Your Door, and something I consider to be an emotional-based platitude: That if there is an infection going on, you’re better off infecting your spouse. In both movies, refusal to infect one’s spouse would or did result in bad things. Yet in real life, if I was infected — I would tell Carolyn not to come in the house. We’ll know in a few hours or days if she is infected or not. And if she is, she can re-join me. But if not? I’d rather her not suffer my fate. Misery loves company, but I love Carolyn more than company and would not want her to be blind or infected. Similarly, when I thought a nuke was going off (a truck hit an electrical pole outside my house, causing the loudest sounds and brightest lights I’ve ever heard or seen in my life), and I told Carolyn to get downstairs quickly (protective wall), and she didn’t — I didn’t run upstairs to share her fate. I’d rather live even if she doesn’t. The idea that couples have to suffer or die together is silly. If you love your spouse you should want them to live longer than you, not die at the same time. And vice-versa.
VISUALS: By definition, it is impossible to make a video of what it’s like to be blind. You could show an all-black or all-white screen (depending on which kind of blindness it is), but you can’t really show what it’s like to be blind. Yet this movie does a great job a just that: Visually showing you what it’s like to have no visuals. Camera tricks (including one that is reminisicent of how they showed The Mothman in The Mothman Chronicles), special effects, objects that disappear and re-appear — They do a damn good job of making the viewer feel blind even as we are viewing something. This movie could have easily used zero visuals, but instead they used many. They are not gratuituous, but they are not needed for the story either. They are a bonus. Cherries on our sundae. It means that the movie doesn’t just have an entertaining story, but was filmed and directed well as well. Awesome.
BAD STUFF: There’s nothing bad about the movie, but it is annoying how blind people got all up in arms about it. Sure, the one guy who was already blind is an evil fuck — but what bothered them the most is blind people wanting to trade sex for food; blind people peeing in the hall because they can’t find the bathroom. Their arguments is that “blind people don’t do this”. But what these short-sighted (heh) blind people don’t see is that THESE ARE NOT BLIND PEOPLE. These are *sighted* people who suddenly all went blind. At once. Yes, blind people can find a bathroom. You’ve had your whole life to adapt. But a sighted person who suddenly goes blind is not going to be able to instantly adapt! And random people forced into an unsupervised quarantine by the government are statistically going to include evil people. And, since evil is more powerful than good, it only takes 2 or 3 bad apples to ruin the peace for hundreds. Just like in real life.
The blind people complaining about this movie (including Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind) don’t seem to understand human nature. They’re probably just a small, whiny subset of blind people, and I’m sure they aren’t representative of blind people everywhere. But I am curious as to why they were so mad, and would like to generalize some guesses…
Most likely, they didn’t watch the movie, and just read a summary. All too often, those complaining against the political correctness of a release have not even watched it. (See: Fitna, which I had to vehemently defend against people who hadn’t watched it.) And I wonder about other reasons? Maybe because they are vulnerable targets, people pity them and aren’t as mean to them? Maybe the average blind person hasn’t been beaten up by a school bully — because what kind of bully would gain street cred doing this? Maybe the average blind person simply hasn’t seen pictures of what humanity actually looks like when thrown into a crisis situation with no resources — they’ve only heard words describe it.
I happen to believe that to truly understand the nature of violence, you need images and/or sound. You can’t just read “beheading” in a book and know what it’s like. You truly don’t know what it’s like until you’ve heard the sounds of a human throat trying to speak as blood gurgles through it — almost machinelike — and ’til you’ve seen how many slices of a buckknife it takes to take a human’s head off (it’s a 30 second process). Even when they air violence and killings on TV — they typically don’t air it with the original sound. Maybe blind people haven’t been exposed to this violence, and don’t understand that YES, what happened in the movie is EXACTLY what people would do in a situation like that — sighted or not.
It’s really not my place to make generalizations about blind people, but I’m not going to shy away from it over political correctness either. I’m just trying to find excuses for them going ape-shit over this movie. Probably the real reason is simply “some people, just like in this movie, are assholes” — I’m sure it’s only a minority of blind people who complained about it. The fact of matter is that this movie actually made me understand blindness more than I had in the past, by visually showing how confusing it can be. I can close my eyes, but the movie showed me something that you can’t be shown merely by closing your eyes.
And this movie didn’t say blind people are evil — all the characters, except one, were all sighted people. You don’t turn into a person who’s been blind your whole life the second you turn blind; it takes time. Technically you are blind the second you go blind, but you’re a sighted person who just went blind. Your person — who you are — is not defined by your senses. It doesn’t just instantly change. So this movie made me feel MORE aware about blindness. It didn’t make me think blind people were evil. (Except for the ones who complained about the movie.:))
So anyway — There’s nothing bad about the movie. But the horrific conditions the characters endure is definitely bad. Gang rape? Murder? Arson? Government corruption? Indifference? Human nature? These are all bad things, but they actually helped make the movie exciting and suspenseful.
If you liked 28 Days Later, you might find this to be a bit derivative. But it’s not like infections-disease movies are a new invention. This is merely a new twist on the zombie genre. In the old days, zombies were black magic. Then they became the more-plasible mass infection that we see in movies like 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, I Am Legend, and Shaun Of The Dead. Now they’ve simply extended this concept, but with a virus that makes people blind instead of zombies. Zombies can’t organize, but these people can. The dynamics are totally different than in a traditional zombie movie, because, well — they aren’t zombies. I still think it’s fairly safe to say, however, that:
28 Days Later:Zombies :: Blindness:blind people.
RECOMMENDATION: See it! See it! See it! Some of the most suspenseful and horrible moments of the year were contained in this movie. It had elements of Cloverfield (the realism), Resident Evil (government corruption), 28 Days Later… Even Lord Of The Flies, if you want to stretch things.
MOVIE QUOTE: Man with the Black Eye Patch: “I know that part inside you with no name, and that’s who we are, right?”
COINCIDENCES: (real life, Blindness) Right before watching the movie Blindness, some girl added me as a contact on flickr, and the image of hers that caught my eye ended up being about how going blind was her biggest fear. “Should I put that in the file?”, I ask Carolyn. “No… That’s not good enough… That’s…just… a coincidence.” (Carolyn bursts into laughter as she realizes something being a coincidence is NOT a good reason to prevent putting it in the coincidence file.)
Mood: ready for the new year
Music: Gwar – Slutman City