Film Review: Blindness (2008)

Blindness, directed by Fernando Meirelles and Screenwritten by Don McKellar is a great film, not flashy or gordy but well penned and well told. Based on the 1995 novel by José Saramago, it’s story of epidemic blindness infecting the globe and the consequences of a lone individual retaining her sight.

I’m quite proud of the author wanting the film to maintain a strong allusion to the novel; he was “suspicious of the film industry and had therefore resisted other studios’ efforts to obtain the rights through large sums of money alone“. I hole heartedly agree with him on this, so often studios take something that is great on novel format and dumb it down thus casting a wider net for audiences in attempt to make as much money as possible. There are some books that this isn’t as much of a problem, JK Rowling for instance wanted the Harry Potter films to be enjoyable to watch by sacrificing parts certain plot lines but enforcing others (such as Kreacher in Order of the Phoenix).

The characters have no names, no history, focusing your attention on their actions to the situation at hand. You feel the burden of the Sighted Character’s dilemma and her internal struggle as greed and the lust for power festers. Her optimism is constantly tested as she literally watched the indignity and moral decline of those in her stead and her willingness to submit to it herself.

My personal reflection after taking in the behaviour of the devious blinded by the sickness it amplifies how bad things really could get if the protagonist hadn’t been so kind. Indeed even the sighted’s wardrobe tried to personify her angelic behaviour.

I don’t mind scary movies, I usually laugh at them, but this is by far the scariest film I have reviewed in recent history, not because of my fear of losing my sight but the decline of humanity when everyone is in such a dire situation. I hope that if a disaster does strike (and if Nostradamous predicted highly it may do so in December 2012) that communities will form rather than gangs, but alas nature is survival of the fittest, and the best fit is usually the strongest.

Unfortunately this film on condemned by the Blind Community for suggesting that “Blind people do not behave like uncivilized, animalized creatures“, I certainly don’t think they do. I think that the Human Race can in an anarchical world behave badly, and unfortunately, the pre-White-Sickness-blind fall into that category. Luckily the author José Saramago responds: “Stupidity doesn’t choose between the blind and the non-blind”, he’s quite right, anyone can jump to wrong conclusions, Just because it involves a topic doesn’t necessarily mean its about it.

Cracking film. But be warned there are some graphic scenes.

  • Picture: 8/10
  • Sound: 8/10
  • Effects: N/A
  • Story: 9.5/10

Death Trap (Game Theory)

Thinking about any scenario that places your loves one(s) in danger is rather morbid but for the sake of exploration we’ll overlook that, still, being in any bad situation one you immediately see the worst result and not the best solution. There are a variety of ways to look at this problem, some really in-depth analyses require some sturdy maths skill others merely ethical or moral stances. The collective name for the understanding this and similar problems is called Game Theory, and it is not, as the name implies, a soft subject.

The problem illustrated above is one I learnt at around 12 y/o, but there is a similar depiction made quite recently. In the recent Batman film, The Dark Knight, The Joker places bombs on 2 ships and gives the detonators to the opposing ship saying either one of you dies or you all die. There are other moments in that film that have an economy behind them and we’ll go into them later.

Mathematical Overview

(No sums or equations here, honest)

All end results can be shown in a table, or matrix, clearly showing a Live/Die for each party/boat in each situation.

Party A
Acts Passive
Party B Acts Die, Die Die, Live
Passive Live, Die Die , Die

This Normal form works for both my problem and the Jokers Ultimatum, there doesn’t seem to be a best action. In a perfect relationship you would both want each other to live and want to save each other but attempting to do so would kill them. If the civilians kill the guilty they become the guilty, the Joker wins but a ferry survives. Which takes us onto an…

Ethical Overview

As with Newtons Third law, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”, by pushing the button you are willingly setting yourself up to kill someone, by not acting the responsibility of the outcome is the perpetrator of the situation. So if both parties do nothing they may loose their lives but they can happily know that they didn’t kill each other. This however does not work with a boat load of people, as they don’t have a button each so there a social ramifications such as being on a surviving boat but not wanting to have pushed the button. And of course they know there is a Batman out there so they can wait for him to save them, whereas in the prison cell they do not have that hope.

Philosophical Overview

Either scenario is preposterous, nobody would actually go to these lengths to commit this crime, if you were to actually find yourself in this situation it is most likely fictitious and as such humming a sticking your fingers in your ears is a viable solution until you wake up. As Homer (J. Simpson) would say, if I don’t see it its not happening!

This is just a talk out of the Joker’s Ferry game, there are 2 other obvious ones (at least to me) the 3 second clip were the bank robber asks the Joker if the shotgun is empty, saying yes/no and being wrong/right has some interesting results. And the robbery itself seems like a variant of the Pirate Booty Game

I’ve just explored 3 ways of looking at that situation I’m sure there are a variety of others, feel free to drop a comment below. Lastly I don’t expect that if you were in as dire situation as this you would consider the problem as rationally but I suppose that is the advantage of practising and theoretical discussions.

What Books would you Rebuild Humanity with?

One of my favourite films is the 1960 classic (H.G. Wells’) The Time Machine. A 19th Century Scientist builds a Time Machine and travels forwards in time to see the progress of Humanity. Witnessing the destruction in World War II he travels further eventually seeing the 803rd Century and a Utopian society of gentle humans. But all is not as ideal as it seems.

The end of the film, without giving away any spoilers, he comes back to his present collects 3 books and returns to the future. If you were going to rebuild civilization what 3 books would you take?

Zeroth Law

The inherent flaws of Isaac Asimov’s 3 Laws of Robots have been reviewed with much scrutiny by many people over the years since there inception as a plot device. The favoured outcome; a rule to correct the problem already laid out in the first Law.

Zeroth Law

0. No robot may harm humanity or, through inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.

This removes ambiguity from the 1st Law, now it only concerns an individual and the Zeroth Law protects humanity as a whole.