Tuesday, August 23, 2005

[SFS Screening] Land of Silence and Darkness

This review of a Singapore Film Society core screening brought to you courtesy of

What if you were without sight. Could you function? What if the sense of hearing was taken away from you? How would you feel? And how about both senses robbed from you?

This 1971 German documentary focuses on Fini Straubinger, a 56 year old blind and deaf woman, and traces her attempts in helping those whose plight is similar to her own. You see, she was not borned without the loss of sight and sound. Rather, a misfortunate fall atop a flight of stairs, not treated and detected properly (only after 3 opinions), rendered her with this fate.

She realized that she couldn't see when her teacher advised her to write between the lines of her exercise book, and gradually lost her sight. She lost her hearing all of a sudden, when she realize she couldn't hear her mother calling out to her one fine day.

Imagine yourself in this situation - close your eyes, and cover your ears. You get the idea. However, as Fini described, that isn't exactly correct. Sometimes you see colours, but that's all, and most of the time you hear strange buzzes or constant crackling sounds in your ears, buit that's it.

For someone who has lost their senses, the other senses try to compensate, like the sense of touch - communication now is via touch language on the palm, and heavy reliance on such interpreters when she tries to communicate with others in the same boat.

But what about those who were borned with this condition? What is the real world to them, without being able to see, and hear? We journey with Fini as she visits children with this condition, and at times, you'll feel a tug at your heart, especially the one on Vladimir, a 22 year old whose Dad was not able to school him the proper way compared to the other children. It's a sad case to watch, a 22 year old, in a lonely world of his own, unable to bring across or understand abstract ideas.

This documentary, given its age and content, isn't like most documentaries we know of today, which come with sexy themes, in your face commentary, and sometimes fabricated evidence. It's honest and forthcoming, and one which will make you ponder about the simple riches in life which you may, at most times, take for granted.

1 comment:

danyulengelke said...

Great review!

We're linking to your article for Herzog Documentary Thursday at SeminalCinemaOutfit.com

Keep up the good work!

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