The opening sequence lingers on a close-up of a traffic light, as if it were a burnt retina. Not long after, a businessman goes blind at the wheel of his car. He then passes his "white sickness" on to an opportunist thief who is pretending to help him. The businessman is taken by his wife to an ophthalmologist who is also treating another patient, who inadvertently passes the plague to a barman at the hotel where she stays. This human chain of casual contact leads them to a quarantined asylum - into which they stumble, the blind leading the blind. The moment reminded me of Bruegel the Elder's 1568 painting The Parable of the Blind, which depicts a similar gathering of unlikely souls, each holding on to the next, proceeding in grim succession towards the corner of the frame. The rebuke is there in the artist's every stroke. Here too, in the director Fernando Meirelles' extraordinary vision, the players enact the fall and rebirth of civilisation. In all this, there is an extraordinary visual strategy to overcome. The source novel - JosÚ Saramago's Nobel Prize-courting allegory - is an urgent rush of unembellished language. No film adaptation could fully capture its literary conceit of the "blind" reader having to envisage what the narrator is describing. Yet the confidence with which Meirelles picks up Saramago's cool irony is infectious - echoed in the cinematographer CÚsar Charlone's striking, bleached-out palette. Some may baulk at entertainment that demands so much from its audience, but this is bold, uncompromising filmmaking. That's the dilemma of viewpoint. That it was one of the most misunderstood films on last year's festival circuit is incontestable. email@example.com
- Most Viewed
- Most Commented
- Most Viewed
- Most Commented
- History shines light on the true borders of Palestine
- Reduce speed limit buffer on UAE roads, experts urge
- Finishing touches to luxury Fortnum and Mason shop in Dubai
- American ‘has UAE Embassy documents’ to back up medicinal marijuana claim
- Nakheel to sell plots for hotels and resorts on Dubai’s Deira Islands
Get involved with The National’s short-story competition
Writers have two weeks to craft a winning submission, under the title and theme "The Turning Point".
Could the force be with us? The search for Star Wars truth
On the hunt for the Star Wars: Episode VII set, which a growing number of people are sure is in Abu Dhabi, but no one can seem to find.
In pictures: Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai
Dubai's World Trade Center was awash with people visiting this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con. Here's some of our best pictures.
A candid talk with Quincy Jones about the UAE, Lil Wayne and the Abu Dhabi Festival award
The Abu Dhabi Festival honoree Quincy Jones discusses his legendary career as a music producer, the return of Dubai Music Week and why he can’t handle the rapper Lil Wayne.
In pictures: Will and Kate visit Australia and New Zealand
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge are on a tour Down Under for three weeks.
Street life: humanity’s future depends on ability to negotiate and sustain public space
Negotiating our ever more crowded cities and maintaining vibrant public spaces are among the major challenges facing humanity in the coming decades.