JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Blind Loves (Director: Juraj Lehotsky) - January 17, 2009

Blind Loves

Slepe lásky

4.5 4.5
77 min.

Reviewed at the 2009 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Do You Hear What We Hear?

Blind Loves is a spectacular revelation about the world of those forever in the dark. Their illuminating personal stories can’t help but lift the spirit of any viewer.

Director Juraj Lehotsky (who also co-wrote the script with Marek Lescák) has lovingly, honestly and creatively brought a covey of characters into focus as, one by one—real or hoped for—their life partners come into sight.

“Their disability is secondary,” he explained during the media reception following the initial screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. “Through extensive observation and a few unexpected, sometimes dangerous events during filming, I wanted to examine ‘What is a lover for her [or him]?’”

With the sensitive narrative treatment and cinematographer Juraj Chlpík‘s knowing camera—Peter’s fantasy underwater encounter with an octopus, accompanied by his own improvised score burbling happily from a Roland keyboard, is unforgettable and worthy of an Academy Award® on its own—each segment offers insight and information in a manner that never preaches or flags.

Earlier, Peter is heard playing a tired upright at his workplace—an elementary school for the blind and visually impaired. Curiously, his phrasing is far more matter-of-fact than lyrical, as if the accomplishment of finding all of the right notes was enough in itself. As well as utilizing Braille sheet music (while correcting a young pupil’s piano skills), he also serves as choirmaster to the school’s musical pride and joy, Rainbow. Their featured song, “Mr. Waltz,” is especially notable for its lyrics: “What we long for nobody knows” speaks volumes for all who choose to hear.

Those with sight will gradually come to the realization that for the day-to-day routine of these courageous couples, turning the lights on serves no purpose. Learning what is seen through their other senses provides some especially memorable moments.

Peter and wife Iveta (who’s knitting a “broad shoulder” sweater for her husband) enjoy listening to television. During a ski-jumping competition the capable musician counts off the seconds from start-of-jump to the landing’s sound and mentally calculates the distance, coming within a few metres of the official result.

Alleged-Gypsy, Miro, and love-of-his-life, Monika, steal away from their strict mothers for some much-needed private time and end up dancing to disco. Soon, others try to cut in. By now, viewers will appreciate the unseen—by the happy couple—flashing lights differently.

Pregnant Elena and her caring mate share a special moment around their Christmas tree, feeling the warmth of the holiday bulbs as a means to savour their comfort and joy.

With Tchaikovsky’s famous scores in the background (the Nutcracker Suite and so appropriately Romeo & Juliet) Zuzi chats online (using special computer equipment) with Majo1 who has no idea that his new friend is blind. A meeting is arranged—What will his reaction be? (Now it’s our turn to look deep inside and examine our own feelings if we were in Majo1’s shoes.)

The coda provides a brief update on most of the lovers and a final chance to marvel at their tenacity, devotion and sense of humour.

Lehotsky has shown innate understanding of his subjects and presented them in such a thoughtful, engaging manner that their lack of vision is easily trumped by their collective determination and compelling humanity. Much is learned from all.

As Lehotsky said, treating his real-life characters “like a fiction script” worked on every level. Do see it for yourself. JWR

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Director - Juraj Lehotsky
Cinematographer - Juraj Chlpík
Further information, future screening/performance/exhibition dates,
purchase information, production sponsors:
Palm Springs International Film Festival
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