Saturday, February 28, 2009

Children of a Lesser God

Yes, this is another review... and don't worry, there are more to come! Last night, we watched the 1986 drama, Children of a Lesser God, starring Marlee Matlin and William Hurt. And no, I'm not a really big Matlin fan, it just so happens that she is THE deaf actress to watch. And after this movie, I think I'm done with her for awhile (unless she's on Dancing with the Stars again). Since I was only 6 when the movie was made, this is the first time I've seen, or really even heard of it. But since I'm on "quest", I thought I'd check it out.

Here's the plot summary (from Wikipedia):

Matlin plays Sarah Norman, a deaf and troubled young woman working at a school for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in New England. An energetic new teacher, James Leeds played by William Hurt, arrives at the school and encourages her to set aside her isolated life of frustration by learning how to talk. As she already uses sign language, Sarah resists James's attempts to get her to talk. Romantic interest develops between James and Sarah and they are soon living together, though their differences and mutual stubbornness eventually strains their relationship to a breaking point, as he continues to want her to talk, and she feels somewhat stifled in his presence. Sarah leaves and goes back to her mother's house, in the process reconciling with her once estranged mother. However, she later returns to James, as both realize they need each other.

I thought it was pretty good... Lucas's daddy was bored about half-way through and went to bed. Maybe I was mostly interested in the signing - I wanted to see how much I could understand! I understood some, but not nearly enough. Matlin is a beautiful signer - very energetic and expressive, but VERY FAST! It kind of reminds me of when I'm teaching the alphabet to my German and Spanish students, and I spell words to them to see if they can write them down. They always complain that I go too fast, and then I ask them how they would spell their own names, for instance, and they go "oh..., I guess you're right". The film had an interesting way of interpreting the sign language - James Leed would just say aloud what Matlin and he were signing.

The other interesting part was the portrayal of the deaf school, and the speech class that James Leeds teaches. He reaches out to them in a way that hadn't been done before, and he teaches them to appreciate music by feeling the beat.

Matlin won the 1986 Academy Award for Best Actress. She is the youngest actress to have received the nod.

1 comment:

leah said...

I'll have to rent it- I was seven or eight when it came out, so I've never seen it, either! I know I won't understand any of the sign- my favorite phrase to sign to other deaf adults is "sign SLOW."