Science fiction and fantasy                                            


directed by Fernando Meirelles

Blindness poster  
Vision is one of the senses we rely on the most, and losing it means making a lot of adjustments. In Blindness a strange plague of sight loss spreads through the city, with the sudden loss of vision its only symptom. The first man to succumb (Yusuke Iseya), known only as the first man and not by a name, does so in the middle of traffic. The gridlock that he causes is the first hint of what is to come.

The blindness is unusual in that it comes on so quickly, and the afflicted see only whiteness, rather than the absence of light that people with other eye problems often experience. The condition has the eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) baffled. Yet very soon he discovers that it's extremely infectious.

Soon the disease has the government worried, and quarantine facilities are set up. The first people to contract it are put away, although there's no-one to look after them in the disused hospital they're sent to. The doctor's wife (Julianne Moore) insists on joining him in quarantine, even though there's nothing wrong with her eyes. Conditions in the quarantine wards are sparse, but as time wears on other people join them and it becomes overcrowded and filthy. No-one is allowed to leave, and supplies of food and medicine grow short.

This movie has a sinister feel, emphasising the fragility of our society. Take away everyone's sight and pretty soon everything reverts to chaos, brutality and terror. There are a few very disturbing scenes later on in the movie. Fernando Meirelles doesn't offer viewers much mercy when it comes to putting his point across.

Blindness starts out as a very arty film, however. Plenty of close-up images with clean lines make the experience a little like looking at glimpses of fine art hidden in everyday scenes. It's a huge contrast with later scenes, where dirt and ugliness take over.

Once people lose their sight appearances become less of a consideration, and the normal stigmas about undressing in public are removed. As a result there's a lot of nudity.

Amidst all the gloom of a society falling apart, the doctor's wife stands out as a beacon of hope, protecting the group of people around her and sometimes literally leading them to safety. However, that's not to say Blindness is particularly cheery or heartwarming, far from it. It's uncomfortable viewing sometimes, and it dwells on degradation and the baser side of human nature. Viewers see things from the point of view of voyeurs looking in on people's private moments, whilst the blind people are oblivious of the watching eyes of the doctor's wife.

Hard-hitting and bleak, Blindness isn't the kind of movie that's going to lift your mood. But if you're after something intelligent, serious and uncompromising this film has the goods.

Film Details

Year: 2008

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

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The Road cover    

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Children of Men cover    

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson