Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008

Blindness the Movie

By David Luhrssen
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With avian flu and AIDS in the background, the idea of startling new contagions has been in the air among horror writers, literary authors and screenwriters. The novel by Portugese Novel Prize winner Jose Saramago, Blindness, concerns an apparnelty viral epidemic of “the white sickness,” causing victims to see little but squirming shapes in a sea of blinding white. They are rendered virtually sightless.

Blindness has been filmed by Brazil’s Fernando Meirelles (City of God) to mixed results. Its A-List cast featuring Mark Ruffalo, Julianne Moore and Danny Glover give mostly damp performances that do little to heighten the realism or enhance the drama of the situation. And drama is inherent in a story that seems to satirize the clumsy response of government to calamity and suggest that many of us will revert to a Lord of the Flies level if the normal glue of society vanishes.

The occasional strength of Blindness the movie lies, almost ironically, in its visualization of sightlessness and the white sterility of contemporary society before the fall. With the right cast and direction, the novel would make a great play, set on a revolving stage in a minimal setting with lots of bright white flood lights.

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