Directed by Fernando Meirelles
“From acclaimed director Fernando Meirelles (‘The Constant Gardener’) comes this extraordinarily intense and gritty thriller that will change your vision of the world forever. Led by a powerful all-star cast featuring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Danny Glover, this unflinching story begins when a plague of blindness strikes and threatens all of humanity. One woman (Moore) feigns the illness to share an uncertain fate in quarantine, where society is breaking down as fast as their crumbling surroundings. Based on Nobel Prize-winning Jose Saramago’s novel — let ‘Blindness’ lead you on a journey where the only thing more terrifying than being blind is being the only one who can see.”
“Blindness” is rated R for violence including sexual assaults, language and sexuality/nudity.
“Blindness” has an interesting premise. It’s an intriguing way to create an apocalyptic environment. Rather than throwing a meteor at the world or overrunning cities with zombies, they simply strike people blind. And any time you take away a basic necessity of life, humanity’s ensuing reaction to that always provides a lot of drama. “Blindness” explores those reactions pretty thoroughly. Some people rise up and become leaders like Mark Ruffalo as the doctor. Other people use the chaos to seize power and pursue selfish endeavors like Gael García Bernal as the bartender. So as far as a psychological study goes, “Blindness” brings up a lot of interesting questions. It makes you ask, “What would I do in this situation?”
Unfortunately, “Blindness” falls apart in a number of other respects. First of all, nobody in the movie seems to have a natural reaction to the situations they are thrown into. For example, if you were suddenly struck blind while driving in traffic, what would you do? I’d panic, be scared, and ask to be sent to the emergency room as fast as possible. What does Yusuke Iseya as the First Blind Man do? He declares he’s blind with all the panic of someone whose cell phone battery just died. He then has someone drive him home and he naps on the couch. Huh? Then what would you expect the government would do if people started contracting a blindness virus? They’d probably isolate them and run a battery of tests on them to find a cure or at least a cause. That doesn’t happen here. They throw them in an abandoned hospital ward to fend for themselves as if they were on “Big Brother.” The blind people then are left alone as they grope around the hospital naked while walking through feces dropped in the hallway. Yuk. This virus doesn’t seem to just strike people blind. It strikes them stupid as well.
The stupidity doesn’t end there. Julianne Moore as the Doctor’s Wife is the only person who can still see and is immune to the virus. Does she tell the government in the hope that they can study her and cure her husband? Nope. She fakes blindness and joins him in the quarantine. When other quarantined people demand sex in exchange for food, does she sneak in and steal their gun away from them? Nope. She leads all the women to be raped (and raped herself) so they can get food. Only after people die and everyone is raped does she take action. You wanted to reach in the TV and strangle her.
Though the film was photographed in an interesting way and has good production values, it’s not fun to watch. Besides seeing blind people walk naked through poop, mass rapings, orgies, and other stuff, a lot of the nudity just seems pointless. Actually, the point seemed to be to titillate audiences and nothing more. It didn’t help the characters or the story.
Overall, “Blindness” is an interesting idea that just doesn’t pan out. Maybe the novel by Jose Saramago is better, but I can’t say I have a desire to find out after seeing this movie. Go watch Fernando Meirelles’ “City of God” or Julianne Moore’s “Children of Men” instead.
The bonus features on this DVD were light. There’s a ‘making of’ featurette that shows how they shot the scenes of the barren streets in the city. There are also a batch of deleted scenes.