I saw this movie over a decade ago at a university and it had stuck in my mind all these years. I re-watched it again recently on DVD and realized why. Although it is a film about the deaf community, it has so much to teach us all about communication in general.
First, the scenes with the children and how they slowly learn, not only from their teachers, but from their classmates, showing both the difficulties and joys of learning how to communicate with one another. Seeing these children courageously push forth on something so unnatural to them was inspiring. Then there are interviews with various people, young and old, each telling the story of how they dealt with being different and learning to communicate with the outside world. Then there were scenes of a cultural exchange program of French and American students that was both touching and inspiring, with the students forming a bond that will last them a lifetime. and Finally, the film documents the marriage of a deaf couple's, their wedding day, their apartment hunting and the birth of their child, all shown so sensitively by Philibert as to inspire all of us to be kinder human beings. This is a first-rate documentary, providing us insight on the deaf, and making each of their stories universal.
I must say that Philibert has a knack of finding interesting people in his documentaries, especially teachers and children. In TO BE AND TO HAVE and this film, the main teachers look surprising alike, tall, graying,balding men with beards with immense amount of patience and passion for teaching. And the children in both these films are all so wonderful.
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