The annals of human history are full of incredible examples of bravery: in the theatre of war; during natural and man-made catastrophes; in the face of personal adversity; even from time to time on our sporting fields.
Some acts of bravery are never known to anyone apart from the participants, while others are celebrated and often retold. Sometimes there are great stories just waiting to be told, and when we hear them we are moved, inspired, and humbled by our trivial day-to-day worries.
Blindsight is a magnificent true story of the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. It follows the lives of six blind Tibetan teenagers who attempt to climb the Himilayan peak of Lhakpa-Ri, a 23,000 feet sister of Mount Everest.
The back stories of the participants are incredible – there is Sabriye Tenberken, a blind German social worker who has travelled solo to Tibet to set up a school for the blind; there is Erik Weihenmayer, a blind American adventurer who has climbed Mt Everest; there are a collection of sighted mountaineeting escorts who volunteer to assist the blind climbers with their ascent; and then there are the six Tibetan youths who have effectively been treated as social outcasts for their entire lives.
While the story is inspiring and emotional (there was hardly a dry eye in the house at my screening), director Lucy Walker (Devil’s Playground 2002) has made some interesting choices in the telling of the tale. Much is made of the building conflicts between the two factions of Westerners accompanying the Tibetans on the climb (caring social workers vs. gung ho adventurers), but there is little to show us what the Tibetans themselves are thinking while they are on the mountain. This has the effect of focussing audience attention on the Westerners, rather than the real heroes of the story. There is also surprsingly little in the way of reflective interviews with the Tibetans at the end of the film.
The scenery and cinematography is magnificent, and excellent use is made of graphical devices to demonstrate the route being taken by the climbing party as they ascend the mountain.
The story itself rates 5 stars; unfortunately the telling of it falls a little short of the mark. 3 1/2 stars.