DVD Release Date:  February 10, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:  October 3, 2008
Rating:  R (for language, strong sexual content/nudity, and violence including sexual assaults)
Genre:  Drama, Thriller, Adaptation
Run Time:  120 min.
Director:  Fernando Meirelles
Cast:  Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alice Braga

One of the best ways narrative art can comment on society is to propose a far-fetched (even impossible) “what if” scenario, and then use that basis to explore the human condition under extreme circumstances (director Stanley Kubrick did this better than anybody, and David Fincher is a worthy contemporary). 

But for the metaphor to work, at some level it has to resonate.  Even if what’s happening would never happen, how it all happens must ring true.  Blindness is one such attempt at allegorical social commentary.  Unfortunately, it is completely and utterly preposterous.

In a present-day unnamed American metropolis, an unprecedented medical crisis unfolds:  people are inexplicably going blind.  First it’s one person, then another, and over several days it’s a handful.  The cause is unknown and no cotangent link can be determined.  It’s simply happening.  The city acts quickly and quarantines the victims.  A plausible, even expected development, yet it’s the last moment when disbelief in the overall scenario can be suspended.  From there, Blindness doesn’t merely stretch credibility; it’s patently absurd.

In such a quarantine, one would naturally expect the victims to be placed in a medical facility where research would be conducted and the people cared for.  In Blindness, the exact opposite happens.  Like Jews sent off to Krakow, the blind are sent to a rundown facility with no running water, food is scarce and rationed, and no caretakers are provided.  The only monitors are military guards who surround the facility perimeter that has been barbed-wired and barricaded like a concentration camp.  Beyond that, people are left to their own devices and without any basic resources.

As the number of quarantined victims increases exponentially, the facility’s culture descends into utter chaos.  Depraved animal instincts become the norm as the most crude and vile version of Darwinistic philosophy takes over.  No one extends a helping hand, gesture of compassion, or even an instinct toward survival.  Rather than uniting in crisis, everyone turns on each other.  It’s as if the loss of sight automatically leads to the loss of sanity.

The facility looks like an asylum overrun by the patients where people walk around in a daze, defecating where they may.  Violence, sexual assaults and murders erupt as this closed-off culture devolves into pure anarchy.  The depiction of it all isn’t just offensive; it’s intellectually insulting.  Even if an entire city were struck by a mysterious blindness, this would never happen.

So why, then, do the filmmakers expect us to buy it?  One can only guess it’s because they themselves have bought into it.  Or if they haven’t, their passion to indict humanity from the most extreme, far-left, fearmongering worldview imaginable has caused them to suspend basic logic.  Blindness is not a film of challenging thoughts or deep insight; rather, it’s so agenda-driven (bludgeoning us with its “We only need a leader with vision” sermon) that it loses touch with any semblance of complex realities.  For a film that’s supposed to be about how blind we are to our own true natures, it’s a tall irony indeed how blind the filmmakers are to their own outrageous (even hateful) biases.