Opening 23 Oct 2008
Writing credits: José Saramago, Don McKellar
Principal actors: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Yusuke Iseya, Danny Glover
Suddenly one person inexplicably becomes blind, then two, then three. Soon several hundred are quarantined in an abandoned factory, surrounded by soldiers in watch towers. There is little contact with the outside world except for food deliveries. Life is even harder than normal imprisonment as everyone is blind except the doctor’s wife (Julianne Moore). She pretends to be afflicted in order to stay by her husband’s side. Everyone desperately clings to some semblance of order and guidance as raw, selfish greed takes over in the form of rape, theft and murder. In the end they flee their prison which has caught fire, only to find the whole city in a state of blindness and chaos.
Fernando Meirelles won the right to film the book by José Saramago, because, based on his films City of Men and The Constant Gardener, Saramago believed that Meirelles could avoid turning it into a zombie film. His instincts were right. The film is easier to understand than the book (which is full of run-on sentences). The white light and often fuzzy pictures made me feel blind as well; this was a good means of involving the audience in the plot. It is an excellent example of society out of control without leadership or rules, such as Lord of the Flies or the Isabelle Huppert film The Time of the Wolf (which also played at the Filmfest Hamburg a few years ago). Naturally, in a wider sense the theme is symbolic of society’s blindness to inhumanity, so that the film could easily be a doctorate thesis. Also starring Mark Ruffalo and Gael Garcia Bernal, it was in competition at Cannes 2008. (Becky Tan)