Blindness (Canada-Brazil-Japan, 2008)

Only the blind can see

Only the blind can see

A Lord of the Flies for the 21st century. This harrowing film , based on Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago’s novel, investigates what happens if everybody goes blind. The first sufferers are interned in an old hospital and the main section of the film investigates the dynamics of what might happen. The film is science fiction (SF) as it is set in a world that’s either not quite like ours or in the future.

The architecture of the city in which it is set, mixes skyscrapers with buildings from earlier centuries; the film was shot in Canada, Brazil and Uruguay and features Brazilian, Japanese, Mexican, as well as Hollywood, actors in the lead roles. The director, Fernando Meirelles, is also Brazilian; the novelist is Portuguese; the screenplay’s by a Canadian; cinematographer Uruguayan; there are 13 production companies involved from different countries. The is about the ‘human condition’ and not about any specific culture. All this is to explain why I’ve categorised this as ‘global cinema’: one that speaks to, and about, (most of) the world. Slumdog Millionnaire can probably be similarly categorised.

The direction and cinematography are fantastic. Objects often block our view as if our sight were deteriorating, such as circular decorations being like blotches before our eyes. Mirrors fragment the mise en scene, making it unclear what we are seeing and a very shallow depth of field is used also to blur our vision. As conditions grow worse we enter the iconography of the horror movie, all the more powerful as we clearly not watching a ‘straight’ genre movie.

I was wondering how the film could end and I won’t spoil the fantastic conclusion the film offers. The cast are uniformly good and Julianne Moore plays a fascinating variant on her ‘brittle housewife’ persona. I’d put this film up there with Children of Men (2006) as being amongst the best SF movies ever made.

4 Responses

  1. I think that it is a deeply flawed movie. It poses some interesting questions and other issues, there is a terrific set of performances from Julianne Moore and a creepy turn from Gael Garcia Bernal and the scene of mass sexual violence is utterly repulsive as it should be. However I believe the film is weighed down by the incredible sense of self importance that it carries, and this is not in a good way. Despite all the issues it brings up the plot is rather thin and it isn’t as deep as it claims to be, like the Constant Gardener it carries to much weight on its shoulders that it can’t necessarily bear and I do not think it is insightful and I do think it is rather full of itself.

  2. […] Lacey on films New film and media siteBlindness (Canada-Brazil-Japan, 2008)The Hours (US-UK, 2002)Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Wo hu cang long, Taiwan-Hong Kong-USA-China, […]

  3. […] last film as director, 360 (UK-Austria-France-Canada-Brazil-US, 2011), but his previous, Blindness, The Constant Gardner (UK-Germany-US-China-Kenya, 2005) and City of God (with Kátia Lund, […]

  4. […] last film as director, 360 (UK-Austria-France-Canada-Brazil-US, 2011), but his previous, Blindness, The Constant Gardner (UK-Germany-US-China-Kenya, 2005) and City of God (with Kátia Lund, […]

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