blond girl from les miserables movie poster
By Niki White

The past three movies I have seen at Red Rock’s Regal theatre have been preview acclaimed blockbusters, and Golden Globe winners: Lincoln, Les Miserables, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. All these films were amazing in their own right (plot, acting, soundtrack), but overall I am increasingly grateful to have seen them in descriptive audio. I can honestly say I would have been missing out otherwise, and would not hold these movies in such high acclaim.

Firstly, a thank you to the Regal team is in order. I have happily learned over the course of my visits that they have glasses for the visually impaired if all you require is some enhancement (fellow blind movie goers, be sure to clarify that you want the descriptive audio, not just the “device for the blind”); their descriptive audio service is available at any time, from opening day to when the movie leaves the theater –a lovely improvement from having to call or go online to know when or even if said service is available, or always having to go to the last theater because that was the only one equipped with the proper technology; thank you to anyone and everyone responsible for these adaptations!! Also, according to staff, you may bring your own headphones, as it’s the little box they plug into that is essential; I will be doing this from now on, and STRONGLY advise others to do the same (the right ear piece pinches).

As for the movies themselves, every review, professional or amateur, of Lincoln will note Golden Globe winner Daniel Day-Lewis’s facial expression and body language as a crucial element of his performance, particularly as he plays the former president with a very mild tone of voice. Half of the title character’s emotional journey is missed if viewers are unaware of a subtle quirk of the eyebrow or thinning of the lips; there are even visual exchanges between Lincoln’s staff during senate meetings which are never acknowledged by dialogue, yet advance the story. And unfortunately due to how they’re placed within the scenes, the only way a sighted person could inform the blind or visually impaired of these descriptions is if they watched the movie beforehand, and took notes. Even then, I doubt anyone would think to point out that the ends of a character’s handlebar mustache turn up when he smiles.

While a movie musical seems pretty straightforward, emotion is displayed just as much through action as through the voice. Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” is orally heartbreaking, but even more so when you hear that she runs her fingers through her now boyishly short hair (previously described as long, beautiful raven locks), clearly aware that it is a mark of just how much her life has changed from her imaginings; likewise on a happier note when two characters fall in love at first sight–all you can say about that moment without knowing exactly how they’re looking at each other is that the violins in the background are pretty. The city of Paris is also used to tell the story of Les Miserables, showing the differences between the poor and the rich; I loved knowing exactly what my family meant about a character climbing onto a ledge and the visual contrast above and below him making the moment so amazing. And no, I can’t describe it any better than that without giving the story away, and apologize, because I cannot count the number of times I was given such a vague explanation when wanting to know what my friends/family were going on about.

In regards to how description helps blind and visually impaired movie goers enjoy The Hobbit, I have two words: battle scenes. There are five of them in this movie of varying size and danger, all apart from the clashing of swords, sounds of running and panting, screams, words yelled in a fictional language requiring subtitles, and maybe the shouting of a name or two, are completely visual. Also, as we are dealing with fictional characters such as hobbits and dwarfs (I now know from the description there is a difference), facial expressions and posture are incredibly useful in having the audience relate to them. In fact, there are moments when it is the only way we can relate, either due to the director’s decision or plot; there is an utterly silent moment toward the beginning of the film during which a character makes a decision that affects the entire movie, and the changes in emotion are too amazingly subtle and beautifully acted to be described as,  “he’s happy, now he’s kind of sad, he’s looking at the paper and thinking…” as would be the simplest way for a fellow sighted viewer to describe the revelations slowly dawning over the character’s face.

Movies are visual. There is no getting around this fact no matter how much we might want to. By being unaware of the visual elements, such as the ones stated above, the blind and visually impaired miss out on far more than even our community realizes without the technology Regal has invested in. If for some reason we did not have a descriptive movie theatre in Nevada, I am not saying that I would never have gone to these movies, would never have talked about them afterward, and would not have enjoyed the dialogue. However, since this thankfully isn’t the case, I can say I would have been EXTREMELY lost, and would not have found them nearly as enjoyable, on account of occasionally being very, VERY bored.



 


Comments

08/17/2015 5:33am

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05/27/2016 4:21am

This is the most descriptive blog I have ever read before and it is much delegated to read. Whole new movie can be filmed on this article I can’t regret reading this article. Literally it is the best.

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08/08/2016 8:47am

This is absolutely a very informative post, I got something new here. Thanks!

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Movies should tell us great story and, in the same time, show us great pic! This things both matters!

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