Fantastic Fest 2014: ‘Blind’ is one of the most astonishing character studies in recent memory

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Blind 
Written and directed by Eskil Vogt
Norway, 2014

Blindness is a difficult affliction to understand. By simply closing their eyes and walking around, people could easily comprehend the act of not being able to see, but they would probably be unable to grasp the loneliness and isolation that occurs when the world is permanently cast into darkness. With Blind, Eskil Vogt has provided viewers with a thorough exploration of a woman and the ailment that confines her to her apartment. His character study is immensely thoughtful, and it allows the viewer to immerse oneself in an unusual new world.

Nearly all of the film takes place in the woman’s mind. Ingrid, played by Ellen Dorrit Peterson, has hardly left her house since acquiring her blindness. Once her husband leaves for work, she sits beside a window, daydreaming and writing on her laptop. She imagines a world populated with her alter-egos. They, too, feel isolated and attempt to find solace through sexual fetishes and online dating relationships. By watching the actions of these fictitious characters, it becomes easier to understand Ingrid’s internal pain. These people are representative of her fears, doubts, and desires.

The way the fantasy sequences are handled may be the film’s greatest asset. There is almost no distinction made between Ingrid’s imagination and reality. Entire scenes will occur that feel authentic, and it is only through certain peculiarities that the illusion is revealed. For example, in one notable sequence two characters are having a conversation, and the setting inexplicably changes from a café to a subway car. By keeping the fantasies grounded in reality, the film successfully conveys Ingrid’s new form of sight. The loss of her eyes has bereaved her of visual objectivity. Her only way of seeing is through an amalgamation of memories and thoughts. In order to understand Ingrid’s world, reality must become subjective.

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Aside from Vogt’s remarkable storytelling techniques, his collaboration with cinematographer Thimios Bakatakis also provides considerable insight. Many scenes favor extreme close-ups, which limit the perspective of the audience. In one early sequence, Ingrid makes herself a cup of tea. The camera remains fixated on her hands as they skate across the countertop and grope for a tea bag. Ingrid’s understanding of her surroundings is now limited to what can be reached with her fingertips. Everything else is simply a dark unknown.

Blind is an astonishingly detailed film that crafts a singular perception of the world without feeling forced or manipulative. Few films are able to create such a fully realized portrait of a character. Ingrid need not feel alone because we are always right beside her, seeing the world through her eyes.

– Jacob Carter

Visit the official website of Fantastic Fest.




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