ISSN Book review Blindness, by José Saramago Monica Stefani in the original in Portuguese in (with the title Ensaio sobre a Cegueira), now. Fernando Meirelles's adaptation of José Saramago's Ensaio sobre a cegueira is a failure in this sense. The movie begins: an extreme close-up into the. Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira = Blindness, José Saramago Blindness (Portuguese: Ensaio sobre a Free download or read online Blindness pdf (ePUB) book.
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Blindness 1 Jose Saramago - [PDF] [EPUB] Blindness 1 Jose Saramago Blindness. (Portuguese: Ensaio sobre a cegueira, meaning Essay on. Blindness 1 Jose Saramago - [FREE] BLINDNESS 1 JOSE SARAMAGO Blindness Ensaio sobre a cegueira, meaning Essay on Blindness) is a novel by. Sat, 30 Mar GMT [PDF]Blindness by Jose Saramago Book [PDF ]Ensaio Sobre a Cegueira by Jose Saramago Book Free Free download or.
Related Papers. The problem is that the tension generated by all the technical resources is insufficient to sustain a narrative that pedagogi cally and didactically deforms itself into something that the director seems to be condescendingly and horribly forced to say at its expense. By kim worthington. How to create in cinematographic terms the cynicism of a narrator who jocosely allies himself with the food thieves, characterizing them as "the hand that feeds" ? Ensaio sobre a cegueira. They share a malaise in view of the liquidation of all values.
Monica Stefani. Translated by Giovanni Pontiero.
Vintage, In a society which cannot see, problems common to a supposedly eye-opened society come up: Simple tasks become almost impossible, like going to the bathroom and facing the dirt and the stinking environment and the consequent discomfort and depression. The story features the political class, which paradoxically seems to be the blindest of all.
The orders delivered to the population who suffers from the unexpected evil of blindness reflect the blindness of the leaders, who can see to increase the paradox, they could flee from the country, finding refuge somewhere else. The heroes, the survivors, struggle to find their way in the middle of chaos, sharing their ideas and suggestions to solve immediate problems, and also their hope for the future: It is not difficult to establish parallels between the fictitious story and the current events taking place in the Middle East, for instance.
From , the year of its publication in the original, to our days, we can see that the pertinence of this plot justifies its timely translation. Monica Stefani Recebido em 18 de junho de Aprovado em 12 de julho de Related Papers. Even after the frame opens, the angles are still a little slanted, jammed.
The cars keep crossing in front of the camera, out of focus, cutting between the scene and the spectators, almost knocking them down. It is a very good start.
Unfortunately, the tension generated by the discerning use and subtle selection of cinematographic resources does not last through the end of the movie. It is outstripped by the narrative, or worse, by the content of the narrative, by what the director wants to say, by the heaviness of a message.
The narrative collapses in the exact measure that it loses the opportunity of revealing itself in the same way in which the title of the movie is announced: He has publications in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Poland, Portugal and USA, including a book, chapters of books, literary and movie criticism, papers, translations, and fiction.
And in this context, the original cinematographic resources collapse as well. The problem is that the tension generated by all the technical resources is insufficient to sustain a narrative that pedagogi cally and didactically deforms itself into something that the director seems to be condescendingly and horribly forced to say at its expense. The director is betrayed, possibly by himself.
To come back to the pertinence of the resources, there are the audi ble as well as the visual ones, as the ingenious mix of tires screeching, car horns tooting, and an electronic- chromatic rustling that tracks the unbalanced, helpless spinning of the first blind man—wide-open arms over a vertiginous pedestrian crossing, still at the beginning of the movie.
Minutes later, there is the scuffling and whispering unfolding of an iris cleared away in a tactile, plicate mechanism of an unseen peephole.
Also unfolded and cleared away, muffled, are the set of curious bells that play along with the husky countertenor voice of the maiden with sunglasses, when she walks towards a love transaction in a hotel room, before she goes blind.
There are triangles and buzzers, crackles and swishes. In the middle of the movie, the re is this scene in which a table is erased and redrawn, and then unexpectedly resurges and pushes a boy with a thump. It is a masterly example of an insightful and discerning combination of the director's audible and visual creativity.
This is what can be said about the audible effects, but the use of music is entirely different. One example is the melodious and sighing reunion of the first blind man with his wife when she arrives at the hospital. Another example would be the condescending musical moment when the jewels are collected. The actors are also weakly directed, and this makes some of the dialogues hardly convincing, not to mention the crying scenes.
The first example, and perhaps the most glaring, occurs in the clinic of the physician, where sentences such as "do you think I'm lying? The performances of Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, and Alice Braga are potent, but they do not withstand the implausibility of the characters, the predictable linearity of the script.
The weakness of the movie becomes patent when it is compared to Saramago's book. The movie comes apart independently of any comparison. There are elements and gaps in the movie the alchemy of which is unfortunate in terms of their fictional plausibility, while in the case of the book, on the contrary, such alchemy is extremely effective. The movie doe s not succeed in attaining that minimal dimension of autonomy in relation to actuality that would enable it to become something in itself.
The movie does not emerge as a work. It would always be possible to opt for a poetical construction completely different from the one exhibited in the book. But the criticism that is made here is that, different or not, the chosen construction doesn't work, and perhaps exactly because the movie remains too much attached to the book, but in a terribly ineffective way in terms of its own construction.
And this is completely independent from the ingenuity and richness of the resources contrived. What subverts the movie is an immaculate didacticism in a setting in which people will continually step both in their own shit and on deceased people.
In relation to the latter point, Fernando Meirelles shows indeed he is not only creative and discerning but has guts.
The movie has passages undeniably disgusting in the best sense. One does not have to be entirely satisfied, however, since Saramago's book—with its feces, deceased people, vomit, snot, and all sorts of bad smells and viscosities—could give rise to a myriad of Pasolinian Salos.
Of the five senses, vision and even its absence are not what prevails, but the sense of smell, permanently oppressed by all sorts of stenches.
Maybe one cannot see, but it is impossible not to smell that when diffused in such a reeking and genuine miasma any linear, well meant, pedagogic solution is fated to self - putrefaction.
No matter if Blindness, in terms of dirtiness, seems to favor smut over secretions. It is Children of Men rather than giornate di Sodoma. The concept of white blindness as underlying a benign kind of illumination has a basis in Saramago's book. It can be inferred, for instance, from the passage in which is described the outbreak of blindness in the man who initially helps and then steals the car of the first blind man.
Eyes, turned to the inside, as mirrors, are able to "explicitly show what we were trying to deny with the mouth. However, espe cially in this latter expression suggested by the narrator, there is a caustic irony.
The luminous glory is also feces, because "light and brightness" smell to the physician exactly like shit, when he cannot even clean himself because there is no paper for the toilet towards which he has crawled, groping over a sticky floor 2 The translations are mine. It is actually a "hideous white tide" of "a frightened horse, a horse with eyes wanting to jump out of their sockets" It is "the eye that refuses to recognize its own absence" It is as well the possibility of returning to a thing-like state, a kind of remission, an eschatological regression that transfigures the symbolic by a process of thing-like specification: The movie lacks this ambiguity, as well as the irony and coldness that articulate and sustain the story in the book, as in the passage in which the narrator confesses that "the grotesque of the spectacle would have made the most sobering observer laugh his head off, it w as hilarious, many blind people crawling forward, their faces close to the floor like swine" It is this detachment of the narrator that gives to the book the undertone of a parody of itself without which the story proposed by Saramago would be empty.
Is it really possible to make a movie out of it? How to create in cinematographic terms the gibe of a narrator who, knowing that the physician's wife is not blind, treats her as an exemplary model of blindness with "frontal vision" 87? How to create in cinematographic terms the cynicism of a narrator who jocosely allies himself with the food thieves, characterizing them as "the hand that feeds" ?
Or who says about the blind people making noise in order to distract the gang of rapists: Or who says about the blind people who turn back to see the nude breasts of the physician's wife that they do so too late, because she had already covered herself with a coat ?
Or who makes the following comment about panic unleashed by the discovery that the images of the saints inside the church were also blindfolded: But no kindness can forgive the director for not realizing that, without this lampooning of the narrative in relation to the narrative itself—of the narrator in relation to the spectacle that he himself depicts—, whatever could be saved from the story would be, in the end, as implausible as a Dracula performed by a toothless actor.
Such a lampoon could be rescued with resources not much more complicated than the introduction of a narrator, as it has been done in the classics of Robert Bresson as well as in Plata quemada. Meirelles delays the use of this resource until the last minutes of the movie, when he avails himself of the voice of the blindfolded old man, but it is then too late. The movie gives here the mistaken impression that the fatal disarray of the story is justified in view of a situation in which fundamental or basic human needs were not attended.
Meirelles does nothing other than to repeat literally what is written in the corresponding passage of Saramago's book, and yet the departure from Saramago's book, taken as a whole, of its spirit, of the marrow of its text and poiesis, couldn't be greater.
In relation to this point, it is useful to consider an essay published by Saramago in the newspaper El Pais eight days after the twin towers attack. God apparently existing, all atrocities are justified in his name. But one should note that Nietzsche and Saramago are both looking to the same problem albeit from different angles, and their conclusions are similar. They are both averse to the nihilism into which one falls when everything becomes possible—be it by God or by the lack of God.
They share a malaise in view of the liquidation of all values. It could be said that this malaise is exactly what is behind Saramago's Ensaio sobre a cegueira. The book exposes a situation in which everything becomes possible in the name of survival. But the most pressing problem is not simply starving to death, as one could infer in a hurried reading.
Against any simplistic pedagogy, to be able to satisfy people's hunger and their other few basic necessities is not the solution for the blindness at issue here, especially if one does so at the expense of everything else. What truly horrifies does not come from something concrete, palpable. When the maiden with sunglasses says, in the movie, "it is not easy knowing that we have killed someone, like I did," this is just another example of immaculate, nonsensical didacticism, occasioned by a literal but myopic repetition of the words in the book.
The genuine problem is not simply to kill no matter if this is done with scissors , as the viewer might wrongly conclude, only to leave the cinema edified by the natural goodness of us all or of some few, among which he certainly includes, besides the maiden with sunglasses, the physician's wife and probably himself.
In the book, when she is reflecting over the fact that she killed the king of ward one with scissors, the physician's wife ends by considering that "it is e essary to kill […] when what is still alive is already dead" That is, the genuine drama, the tragedy of consciousness does not come from any original purity, from any humanitarian, moral atrophy of the ability to kill.
Much on the contrary, tragedy comes from the discovery of a possible state of fuzziness between the alive and the dead, this state of living death, which not only justifies assassination but demands it, as a necessity. At the end of the book, the same woman will defend the importance of an order "that wants the dead in their place of the dead and the living in their place of the living, while hens and rabbits feed some and are fed by others" It is the minimal recognition that not everything must be possible and that things must not be taken as equal even if we are starving to death.
And there is no lack of irony in this formulation, mentioning hens and rabbits, to warn about the ambiguity and the transitory character of values, but nothing could be more "fundamental" than the contraposition, concretized in time, of these reversible differences. The movie fails in conveying all this, it fails in conveying the complexity of the matters at issue, and we are left with nothing more than the self- edification of the good and pathetic viewer in the armchair of the cine ma, an unsuspected specimen of Alex from Clockwork Orange, confident in his hunger and natural inability to kill.
When, differently, the director was bold enough to create, to invent a dialogue that was not originally in the book, the outcome is effective: Just a little bit.