That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, these ones revolve mostly around films.)

Blindness (teaser)

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007 9:15 pm—Film

Blindness (Brazil/Canada/Japan, In Production, Drama/Thriller), Writer: Don McKellar; Director: Fernando Meirelles

This post is premature given that the movie won’t be released until 2008, but I just found out that not only is the film adaptation of José Saramago’s Blindness finally in production, but it stars Gael García Bernal (and Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore)! I was pretty excited about David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen re-teaming for this year’s Eastern Promises, but I’m even more excited about Blindness now that I know Bernal has been cast.

Blindness is one of my favourite books. I first heard about the adaptation at the 2000 Summer Institute of Film and Television. Don McKellar—one of my favourite Canadian filmmakers—was there teaching a writing workshop, and during one of the panels he talked briefly about his process for adapting Blindness to the screen. (According to McKellar, Saramago insisted that he read all of his novels before approving the adaptation.) I’m pretty sure that at the time, McKellar said he was planning to direct the film as well as write the screenplay, so I don’t know what happened there because Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles is now attached to the project.

Anyway, that was seven years ago and I hadn’t heard about the film since then—until today. It’s funny; just this weekend, I was telling someone about the adaptation that never was, and, by coincidence, this morning I stumbled on an article about it while researching information on Sook-Yin Lee for a post about Shortbus (to come).

Blindness was written in 1995 in Saramago’s native Portuguese. It won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature. Here’s the write-up on the back of the book:

“A city is hit by an epidemic of ‘white blindness’ which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation and a vivid evocation of the horrors of the twentieth century, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of man’s worst appetites and weaknesses—and man’s ultimately exhilarating spirit.”

I’m curious to see how McKellar adapted Blindness. When I heard about the project in 2000, it seemed to me that it would be a hard adaptation to write. The novel isn’t very descriptive, and Saramego seems to have an aversion to punctuation which makes the dialogue hard to discern. And I couldn’t envision how McKellar would capture the disorientation that comes from blindness without filming the entire movie with the lens cap on.

But now that I think of it, the premise lends itself really well to film. The doctor’s wife (as she is known throughout the book) is the main protagonist, and also the only character who retains her eyesight. That makes her the ideal guide not only for the characters in the story, but for the film viewer.

I can’t wait for Blindness to come out! The main casting is pretty trendy, but at least they’re all great actors. And there are some Canadians in the cast, including McKellar and Maury Chaykin (Whale Music, The Sweet Hereafter). Stay tuned for this one. It should be interesting, at the very least. In the meantime, you can pick up the book at almost any major bookstore, and probably most of the smaller ones.

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