Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Sight-loss: Danny Glover in Blindness.
Sight-loss: Danny Glover in Blindness.
Sight-loss: Danny Glover in Blindness.

Blindness

This is bold, uncompromising filmmaking - one of the most misunderstood films on last year's festival circuit.

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. afeshareki@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Hajer Almosleh, the winner of the last year's short story competition, at her home in Dubai. Duncan Chard for the National

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".

 It is believed that the desert-like planet of Tatooine is being recreated for Star Wars: Episode VII. Could that be where filming in the UAE comes in? Courtesy Lucasfilms

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.

 With an estimated 18,000 comic and film fans having already paid a visit to this weekend’s Middle East Film and Comic Con, organisers are hopeful they will have surpassed last year total, of 21,000, by its close. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

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.

 Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, presents Quincy Jones with the Abu Dhabi Festival Award as the Admaf founder Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo applauds. Courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival.

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.

 Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince George of Cambridge arrive at Wellington Military Terminal on an RNZAF 757 from Sydney on April 7, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

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.

 A protester gives a victory sign during clashes near Tahrir Square in Cairo in November 2011. Goran Tomasevic / Reuters

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.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National