Thursday, October 14, 2010

Werner Herzog looks at what it means to be handicapped

Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)
Story of Fini Straubinger who is "trapped" in her own body being both deaf and blind. Since the condition came on later in life she is able to speak and tells us what its like. We also watch as she goes around helping those like her. Communication is done via touching or writing on the hands. It becomes clear that the people in the film with this condition are trying to live full lives. An amazing film that shows us what its like not to be able to hear or see. Hopeful and yet unnerving-its not a state one really wants to contemplate having-its an important film since we see the world with a different set of eyes. Taking the matter even further Herzog and his crew also show us what its like for people born deaf and blind and how hard it is for them to even learn the basic things we take for granted. Moving. Haunting. Worth a look since it will make you reflect on how we get along.

Handicapped Future (1971)
Werner Herzog co directed film about handicapped children in Germany in 1969. The point of the film is that the Germans don't want anything to do with the kids who are all but locked away. Even the fact that they are building special apartment blocks for the kids and their families is seen as segregation from the rest of society. Its a sad film in that the kids are clearly seen to be no different then normal kids, only with physical handicaps that reduce their mobility. Its a damning indictment of German society at the time especially when in the final minutes the film moves to America where we see a young man who moved to the US to get a college degree. He is a teacher and able to to go where and do what he wants thanks to an understanding society. Its a good film that that only suffers in retrospect since almost 40 years on we don't know how far Germany may or may not have come. (Its also eerie in that watching it it becomes very understandable how some of the Holocaust happened-the German's clearly wanted imperfection locked away.) 6.5 out of 10 because its dated in some ways.

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