Monday, July 13, 2009


I saw Blindness this past weekend and didn't know what to think of it. I wasn't sure if I liked it or hated it. So I wasn't going to blog about it at first, but I'll tell you why I am in a little bit. Blindness is about a mysterious and sudden epidemic where those infected experience white blindness. The first victim explained it as swimming in milk. The condition was infectious and spread through contact. The world went into a panic and quickly quarantined anyone who was affected. The first few who were quarantined included an ophthalmologist and his wife (played by Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore); however, the doctor's wife was not infected but chose to stay with her husband. They along with several other blind people were put in a building, separated by wards, without any help and left to their own devices. Within a few days, living conditions and hygiene degrade dramatically and horrifically, and they quickly lose their civility without their sight. Conditions worsen due to the lack of food, care and organization. The doctor's wife try her best to help but reaches a breaking point.

[Spoiler Alert!] Soon, someone from Ward 3 crowns himself King. (This is where it reminds me of Lord of the Flies) He somehow obtains a gun and wields it to get his way. He and his crew hoard all the food supply for Ward 3 and demand compensation for food. After money and valuables run out, he demands women as compensation. Faced with starvation, they don't have a choice but to succumb to the lunatic's whims. This is where I started to get angry as the TV and then at Moore's character for doing nothing. The women were helpless against these monsters, and it sickened me. The particular scene was brutal, graphic and violent. This is probably where it lost a lot of people, including me.

Then I learned more about the movie and the book upon which it is based, and I think I get it--that's why I am blogging about it. Blindness is based on a book of the same name written by José Saramago. The theme of his book is spiritual blindness. Blindness serves as a metaphor for human nature's dark side like prejudice, selfishness, violence and willful indifference. It can also be considered an allegory about the fragility of civilization, which is closer to my initial interpretation. Furthermore, the character of the doctor's wife is important because she is the only one who can see. However, she is still blind in her own way--refusing to act until she is forced to. The screenwriter said that he asked the author about the wife's failure to act and got the response: "She became aware of the responsibility that comes with seeing gradually, first to herself, then to her husband, then to her small 'family,' then her ward, and finally to the world where she has to create a new civilization." That makes sense because it could not have been easy living in those conditions and also being the only one who could see.

After getting over that, I started to appreciate the uniqueness of the story, the way the movie captured the characters and this idea of spiritual blindness, and the artistic interpretation of the book. It also forced me to take a hard look at society and the goodness (and badness) of people. So I guess I hate it a little less. Perhaps I changed Tina and Laura's minds about it because they really disliked it. You just have to see past the not so pleasant parts.


Laura said...

I get the metaphor, but I think it translates completely differently on screen than in a book. I really just didn't like how the females were so powerless. I kept shouting "Do something!" at the tv screen, because the main character did absolutely nothing. If they didn't realize that there were no guards anymore, the story would have continued with her doing nothing and they would just starve. Their sudden freedom seemed to me to be the only catalyst to her doing anything. The whole movie just made me very frustrated. It has such a dark view of the world.

And also, the commercials were very misleading. With movies like The Happening and I Am Legend coming out, its hard to watch this movie and take it as anything other than a sci-fi and see it as an allegory.

Wow, long comment. Okay, that was enough hard thinking for me for the rest of the month. Back to summer mode! Hehe.

Tara said...

Wow, Laura. You really thought about it. It's true that when she did finally do something, they suddenly got freedom. But I think she figured it out before then...although the coincidence took away from that. Her threat to them was awesome and seemed to scare the blind accountant. She probably would have followed through.

Also, Wil pointed out that revenge was sweeter after you see how horrible Ward 3 was.