Blindness – pretentious? aku?
In the country of the blind what use is a sighted person? This is the type of pretentious question you are expected to answer in an English Literature class. This is the type of question that is not suitably answered in Blindness, the latest film starring Julianne Moore. She is joined by Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover and Alice Braga (along with a bunch of other creepy people).
If, like me you enjoyed English Literature at school, you may just appreciate Blindness, but for the other 98% of people who just see this kind of story as pretentious twaddle, you may just see no point in it (excuse the pun)
A city is ravaged by an epidemic of instant “white blindness”. Those first afflicted are quarantined by the authorities in an abandoned mental hospital where the newly created “society of the blind” quickly breaks down. Criminals and the physically powerful prey upon the weak, hording the meagre food rations and committing horrific acts. There is however one eyewitness to the nightmare. A woman whose sight is unaffected by the plague follows her afflicted husband to quarantine.
Let me start with the most obvious: The cinematography is stunning in this movie. The painfully bright white shots allow us to gain an insight into each character’s blindness. You are unlikely to see anything that gets your Ganglion cells firing as well. Along with this you have subtleties with appearing and disappearing objects as each character adapts to their surroundings. This is where Blindness really stands out against its peers.
Speaking of peers, Blindness borrows a great deal from recent stories such as I am Legend, Children of Men and 28 Days Later. Perhaps the novel of which it is based on doesn’t, but you can’t help notice similarities to the plot. 28 Days later showed some uncomfortable footage of women used as sex objects and similar scenes in Blindness are incredibly uncomfortable as you watch groups of women submit to rape in order to eat. This is a movie that doesn’t mind if it upsets you. In fact it tries to shout at you very loudly and state that if you deprive a person of 3 meals, total anarchy occurs. This doesn’t hold a great deal of hope for the human race (or the blind for that matter). I would imagine that if I was blind, I would find this film highly offensive (if I could actually see it).
Once quarantined, it doesn’t take long before people are wandering round naked and walking through their own filth. I’ll be honest. I can think of better films to watch whilst munching on popcorn!
Blindness seems in no hurry to get to the point. Remember we already know what is going to happen (the clue is in the title) and yet the director spends nearly half an hour getting there. Sadly, it seems that the focus was shifted on making everything visually arresting and the plot was somehow forgotten. If you are going to make a thematic tale, then it is important to keep your audience entertained. For me, it felt like 2 hours of “wisdom” being shared. Unfortunately, you don’t much care for the wisdom because you have 120 minutes of Mark Ruffalo moaning about being useless. Yes Mr Ruffalo’s character: you are useless!
It doesn’t take long before this Lord of the Flies tale turns political and as I have zero interest in political movies, this is where it lost me. You could argue that the final act made up for its shortcomings but it simply didn’t! The ending few minutes (after a leisurely first and second act) seem rushed somehow and the payoff isn’t good enough! I’m sure that there are some academics out there who appreciate what the film stated (and it stated a lot) but it should be so much more! It was like reading a story in bullet points; factual but not flowing.
You may be thinking I hated Blindness. Far from it! I thought it was visually stunning. Perhaps it will make an excellent instruction manual for filmmakers to become a little more thoughtful in their work. Sadly, as a film it does not hold your attention enough. It sets out to make you think about it long after leaving the cinema. It doesn’t! The only thing I wanted to do after watching it, is read “The Country of the Blind” by H.G. Wells. When will we get a modern adaptation of that short story? Isn’t that pretentious enough?
Rating: 3 out of 5