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#172. Blindness

In a medium that so heavily relies on visuals, blind characters make for interesting plot points. It can be easy to show the audience something that other characters don’t get to see, even if they aren’t blind. However, when the audience sees the events unfolding around a blind person, they’ll want to shout out, knowing that the character cannot see what’s happening. Often, this is used for comedic effect, since the oblivious character has no idea how close to destruction they have come. On the flip side, the audience is impressed if a blind person can avoid danger, but even more impressed if they can fight it off. We are often inspired by those who can overcome their handicaps, and blindness is just such an example. This week’s two films examine some characters who are affected by blindness.

City LightsCity Lights
Year: 1931
Rating: G
Length: 87 minutes / 1.45 hours

There have been a few blind people who have become famous for being able to overcome their blindness. For instance, Helen Keller was not only blind, but deaf as well, but still managed to live an inspiring life. Fortunately for the world of music, Ray Charles wasn’t deaf. However, he made it a point to not let his handicap hinder his life. He may have been blind, but he never let it stop him from changing the musical landscape into what we hear today. Still, even though many people can live normal lives with blindness, those of us who can see will often give them charity. Blindness does limit a person’s life somewhat, so we are more than willing to help those who cannot see. When it comes down to it, the kindness of strangers can be brought out through the simple acts of helping those who need help.

On a day like any other, a blind girl (Virginia Cherrill) was selling flowers on a street corner when a man came by and bought one of her wares. She tried to give him his change, but he had already left. The next day, the man continued his generosity by buying out the girl’s entire supply. He then drove her home in a very fancy car, which contrasted the small apartment where she lived with her grandmother (Florence Lee). The man reads a letter to her, which informs them that the two women will be evicted from their apartment soon if they don’t pay up. Feeling moved by their plight, the man promises to help obtain the money. Furthermore, he has learned of an operation that could restore the girl’s sight, which is also expensive. When the girl receives the money, the man disappears. Now that she can see, she keeps watch at her flower shop for a rich benefactor, only to find the man is not who she thought he was.

The Book of EliThe Book of Eli
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Length: 118 minutes / 1.97 hours

Blindness can be caused in many ways. Sometimes it’s a medical abnormality that steals someone’s sight. Other times, it’s caused by external forces. Your mother always told you to never look directly at the sun and to not sit too close to the television because she didn’t want you to go blind. However, what if your eyes were damaged from something else? In the case of the superhero known as Daredevil, he was blinded by chemicals, but soon finds his other senses heightened to the point that his blindness is actually a superpower. In these instances, fighting in conditions like darkened rooms and heavy fog can actually be an advantage to the blind. But, what if the world enters a post-apocalyptic era where the sun could easily blind someone, even if they don’t look directly at it? Will it become a case of the blind leading the blind?

For thirty years, the world has been reeling from a nuclear apocalypse which has caused the sun to shine a much harsher light on the land. A traveler by the name of Eli (Denzel Washington) makes his way into a town run by Carnegie (Gary Oldman). It turns out that both men can read, which is a rare skill after the apocalypse destroyed most of the literature in the world. When Carnegie learns that Eli has a particular book in his possession, he sets out to get that book. Unfortunately, Eli is skilled at fighting and is able to fend off wave after wave of attackers. Eventually, Carnegie gets the book Eli was holding: a copy of the Bible. With this book in hand, Carnegie had plans to control the region, but soon realizes this won’t be possible because the book is written in braille. Freed from Carnegie’s pursuit, Eli arrives in San Francisco, where he recites the whole Bible from memory. Now it can be printed again.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 sightless stories

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2 responses to “#172. Blindness

  1. Pingback: #142. Jamie Foxx | Cinema Connections

  2. Pingback: End of Act Four | Cinema Connections

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