Human Rights and Global Issues in José Saramago’s “Blindness”

In the 2008 film Blindness, directed by Fernando Meirelles, an unnamed city is beset by an epidemic of the “white sickness,” a disease that instantly turns everyone blind.  Except for one woman.  The novel follows the story of seven people who are quarantined along with 300 other people in an abandoned madhouse.  These seven are forced to band together in order to survive not only the horrors of living in a blind world, but also the most basic elements of humanity that take hold in the quarantine.  Once out of the quarantine, the group must now try to make its way in a completely blind city, where humanity has all but descended into animal chaos.  Only through the help of the one woman who has miraculously been spared blindness is the group able to hold on to some shred of humanity and recognize what it is to be human.

After a brief introduction and viewing of several key scenes, we will discuss major themes of the movie: the fragility of society, gender relations, blindness, memory and history, and disease and try to apply the themes to several of the world’s current crises like the situation in Syria, the atrocities carried out by ISIS, and even the US political campaign for President.

Clary Loisel will present “Human Rights and Global Issues in José Saramago’s “Blindness” during DiverseU on Wednesday, November 4th from 10-11 AM.

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