Tuesday, April 15, 2008
The trailer for the film version of Blindness is above. In theory, there's a lot to love here--Julianne Moore is in it and it would be inappropriate and disturbing for me to elaborate on why that's excellent, so let's just accept that it is; the director created the visceral mind-fuck that was City of God. But clearly something's lacking. While the book is both dystopic and beautiful, the trailer suggests your standard near-future, science-fictiony, disaster fare. My friend Nancy says the problem with making Blindess into a movie is that the full achievement of the work itself has no place in cinema--that is, the book is terrifying precisely because it presents an entire world to us mainly through characters who have no sight. The ugliness of our species is lade bare, but simultaneously made invisible. Even the characters are nameless--they are anonymous, blind guides through a sudden apocalypse. That Saramago crafted a book from this premise is an achievement itself.
I know I complain a lot about how Hollywood likes to ruin things that I love, but how can you adapt Blindness--maybe one of the three greatest achievements in the last fifteen years of international literature--into a movie about sight? Julianne Moore's character--the Doctor's wife, the only one spared--says at the end of the trailer, "The only thing more terrifying than blindness is being the only one who can see." I disagree with the proposition, and her role, it looks like, will get more emphasis in the movie than the book--she, not the blind, will be our guide. If that's the road we're being led on, if this is a movie about being the sighted voyeurs, then this film's going to be a clunker.
But there is hope: If you'd told me the plot of Children of Men--also, a Julianne Moore film, also a film about an inexplicable epidemic--and then said it was going to jump off the screen and punch me in the solar plexus, I'd have been skeptical, but that's exactly what that film did.