Disability on Film: An Exploration of Film Codes’ Obstructiveness in City Lights and Children of a Lesser God
Keywords:Disability; Blindness; Deafness; Film; Chaplin
Looking at two films that center upon a sensory disability (Chaplin’s City Lights and Randa Haines’ Children of a Lesser God), I propose that despite many gestures of sensitivity, these films reinforce an othering of the non-normative subject through conventional film codes and conventions. For example, in Haines’ film, the protagonist James Leeds (William Hurt) delivers a lecture on facing his deaf students so that they can read his lips. However, this scene is shot with his back turned away from us (the viewer). Rather than presenting an instance of irony, moments like this reinforce notions of normativity. Specifically, it’s the mechanism(s) behind and within film production that reinforce problematic notions of “normality” while trying to trump them.
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