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Through examining Fini Straubinger, an old woman who has been deaf and blind since adolescence, and her work on behalf of other deaf and blind people, this film shows how the deaf and blind struggle to understand and accept a world from which they are almost wholly isolated.Written by
Erik Gregersen <firstname.lastname@example.org>
LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS is an early documentary in the career of German film-maker Werner Herzog, a story laced with sadness and alienation that bears some stylistic similarity to Herzog's dramatic film THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER. This one's all real though, a documentary that proves to be depressing and uplifting in equal measure.
It's a documentary that explores the world of deafblind people living in Germany, controlled by a campaigning woman, Fini Straubinger, who makes it her business to travel the country and help those in need. What transpires is a travelogue fraught with unforgettable moments; moments that I don't mind admitting had me in tears on more than one occasion. The sequence with a 22 year old man who's never had any education or even contact with the outside world - he can't even walk - is the film's moving highlight.
Herzog lets his story speak for himself, although he makes some strong choices as director. Visits to a cactus house and a zoo are utterly engrossing and the addition of some classic music to the soundtrack really helps to tug at the heartstrings. Not an easy film to watch then, but one which is nevertheless thoroughly compelling.
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