First, Happy Birthday Mr. Pinter. I’m glad you’re still with us.
Last Friday night the wife and I took a rare (for this period in our lives) coordinated night off to go out and view a Major Motion Picture, we went to see Blindness at the Alamo Drafthouse.
Blindness is of course an adaptation of the Nobel Prize winning novel by Jose Saramago. The population of Everycountry is hit by an epidemic of The White Sickness, a milky white blindness, (as differentiated from congenital blindness) and the infected are herded into an abandoned asylum. Saramago uses the asylum as a societal reset to look at how dynamics change when we make our own rules, a sort of grown up Lord of the Flies now with oppression 2.0.
Full disclosure: I started to read the book, and stopped about 40% of the way through. If any work of fiction deserved the phrase “a meditation on”, Blindness is it. S-L-O-W. I also considered the book unfilmable. part of the experience of reading it is that you like the population you are suffering from a narrator imposed lack of sight. I didn’t think that you could achieve lack of sight in a visual medium.
I was wrong.
Fernando Meirelles shoots the movie beautifully, and mixes in enough distortion and occlusion to give us the feeling of not being able to see what exactly is happening, unless his Witness to the disintegration is the focus of the scene when we are treated to an almost garish amount of light.
But the movie’s primary mode is claustrophobia. You are trapped as witness (with Julianne Moore) to this breakdown, and it’s hard to take. Which lead to the most memorable moment of the viewing for me.
No. Not the blind protestors out front.
The gentleman who during the beginning of the (truly horrifying) group rape scene stood, turned to the Drafthouse crowd said “Fuck this shit…” and walked out, the first of what I believe were six walkouts total.
I have myself never walked out of a movie. Not even the Jeremy Iron’s classic ‘Dungeons and Dragons”.
But I can imagine the emotion necessary to overcome the group quiet of a movie theatre and leave. I cannot begin to think of what line you have to cross emotionally to announce your disgust.
If you’re bored you just sit in your seat and drink your beer, or meander out quietly. You don’t announce that you’re done.
So points to Fernando Meirelles and Jose Saramago. I long for my next deserved walkout.
My first of course (my first dozen) were for New World Order.
Happy Birthday Mr. Pinter, theatrical oppressor first class.