Monday, June 20, 2016

LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS (1971)

LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS is an early Werner Herzog documentary that centers around a deaf-blind woman, Fini Straubinger, who (from what I saw in this film) IS a saint, stronger than a thousand bodybuilders, endlessly inspirational and a perfect example of the human spirit.

When Fini was 9 years-old she fell down a flight of stairs and afterwards began to lose her sight and hearing.  By the time she was 18 she was deaf-blind.  For whatever asshole reasons, her family neglected her and she remanded in her bed for 30 fucking years!!!  Eventually, she made it out of that Hellish situation and by the time Werner captured her in this film she had somehow (there was a brief mention of a charity) became a goodwill ambassador for deaf-blind people.  In this film, she briefly recalls her own story and then for the remainder of the film goes around hanging out with other deaf-blind people.  Some stuff is spoken to the camera, but for the most part, it is just Fini interacting with other people and her surroundings.

Fini is amazingly well adjusted to her situation.  It's extremely impressive, but then we meet some of the other deaf-blind people who are nowhere as well adjusted and it's heartbreaking.  I think the saddest to me was the young man, Vladimir Kokol, who was born blind-deaf (and with an apparent mental problem?) who had been neglected from birth.  This dude was all kinds of jacked up and it broke my heart watching him.  At least, by the time he appeared in this film, he was living in a facility that would take care of him, but still it was sad knowing that his poor soul would live his entire existence in silence and darkness and most likely never even be able to grasp what's going on...which, come to think of it, might be a "good" thing.

LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS is emotionally draining, but it is very thought provoking and it will give you pause the next time you feel like bitching about something in your life. Also, I would love to see an update on the people featured in this film and know how the rest of their lives turned out.  I hope they all found some form of happiness.