Synopsis: After an unknown epidemic renders people blind they are put under quarantine and left alone to care for themselves. Their whole world has gone white but one woman can still see, a secret she must desperately keep in Blindness.
Release Date: October 3, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Drama
The concept of a world gone blind is exciting, and fearful. Watching it play out on screen in Blindness is thought provoking and definitely stirs up all sorts of anxieties about life and existence, and the animal instincts that are awakened when people are stripped of any remnant of a controlled society. With all this potential it is unfortunate that the film is not wholly entertaining. You find yourself lacking the engagement you desire from a movie and the seriousness is lost throughout by characters actions or the disbelief in many of the occurrences. Although the story is strong, the actual plot fails to deliver.
Given the heavy tone of Blindness and the dire circumstances, the character’s are under one would expect a very intelligent and thought-provoking screenplay. Unfortunately, this is not delivered. The writing is sophomoric and lacks intensity. There is not a moment where one character truly develops or is perceived to feel anything. The lines fall flat on one another and give absolutely nothing for the audience to emphasize with or relate. When the Doctor’s Wife, the only one who can see, has her moments of anger, revenge, or desperation, her words are meaningless. They have no depth or desire in them. Even the antagonist of the story, the King of Ward Three, lacks any sort of true menacing remarks. Instead, Blindness relies on a gun to portray his evilness, and even that is humorous considering he is blind and more than likely a poor shot. It is not the actors’ performances here that are to blame, but the lack of sufficient dialogue to carry out the needed amount of emotions the film begs they deliver.
Blindness is shot using high contrast lighting. The differences between light and dark are highly dramatic and hard on the eye. Everything appears to be bleached out, and one can only assume to emphasize the loss of sight by the characters and the apocalyptic nature of the narrative.
A very stylistic technique employed is the use of the camera in the first person point of view position by blurring the picture to reflect the blindness of an individual. The shot blurs and then goes completely white and as an audience member you see what the character sees, absolutely nothing. When two blind characters speak during such a shot color slowly appears again denoting the communication between two blind people, not the actual ability to see. This technique is effective in mirroring the effect of blindness from on the screen to the audience member but is quickly forgotten as the film progresses, leaving most of Blindness to employ the basic third-person POV and standard shots.
Blindness has very much to do with the sound. The characters are blind, and sound takes over as a primary sense for their environment. The sound is done exceptionally well throughout the film and during the moments of stress, it is exemplified very well. One scene in particular demonstrates the extreme importance of sound in the film: the rape scene. The camera is moved around continually in this scene, never giving a very direct or purposeful shot. It is not needed. The sound is gut wrenching. The cries of the women, the screaming and yelling of the men, the breathing, the cries of anguish, the sounds of flesh being beaten. They are all mixed together so well that you feel the pain, the excitement, the carnal aura of the entire animalistic scene. Through the use of sound the scene plays before you, whether blind or with sight, the horror and extremeness of the moment vibrates through your core.
For most of Blindness, the character’s are quarantined in an old hospital. The walls are bare, color ceases to exist, but the production design does stand out. The world created is absolutely horrific, and quite possibly wholly realistic. The floor is scattered with debris, trash, and feces. The beds are stained with filth and the clothing of the characters battered and torn. There is not a moment where you do not believe these are drastic circumstances and horrifying conditions for people who lack the ability to see or care for themselves properly.
As the main cast moves out into the desolate and desperate world the design is magnified. The streets are abandoned and littered with the remnants of the past society. A ghost town exists, only the ghosts are living people aimlessly moving through the streets and buildings searching for sustenance. This is a world that has suffered and its suffering is available only to the audience, as the characters cannot see what their world has become.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Fernando Meirelles
- Screenwriter: Don McKellar
- Cast: Julianne Moore (Doctor’s Wife), Mark Ruffalo (Doctor), Alice Braga (Woman with the Dark Glasses), Yuseke Iseya (First Blind Man), Yoshino Kimura (First Blind Man’s Wife), Don McKellar (Thief), Mitchell Nye (Boy), Danny Glover (Man with the Black Eye Patch), Gael Garcia Bernal (Bartender/King of Ward Three), Sandra Oh (Minister of Health)
- Editor(s): Daniel Rezende
- Cinematographer: César Charlone
- Country Of Origin: Canada, Brazil