In a world of glamour and physical beauty like Hollywood, disability is not a subject that appears often. Yet, those films that do feature disabled characters, like The Miracle Worker, My Left Foot, The Theory of Everything, and Children of a Lesser God, are often greeted with accolades and awards. Harold Russell won two Oscars (Best Supporting Actor and an Honorary Oscar “For bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans through his appearance in The Best Years of Our Lives“) for his performance as the double amputee veteran, and The Best Years of Our Lives itself garnered a host of other awards including Best Picture.
That same year, another Best Picture nominee featured one of the most famous screen villains of all time, the wheelchair-bound, embittered, and lonely Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) in It’s a Wonderful Life. One film offers inspiration for the disabled; the other presents a bleaker picture. Yet, actor Lionel Barrymore’s continued career after losing his mobility is itself inspiring.
Disabled characters run the gamut from the sympathetic to the heinous, the monstrous to the victorious. Some portrayals of disabled characters are well developed and three dimensional; others, whether heroic or wicked, are sadly lacking in depth.
On May 13-15th, we’ll examine a topic that isn’t covered very often in film criticism. Join me in looking at the various aspects of disability in film.
1. Feel free to write about any topic relating to disability and the movies. Some possible topics include an individual film involving a character or characters with disabilities (such as The Best Years of Our Lives, Light in the Piazza, or The Waterdance), a performer with a disability (such as the late-career Lionel Barrymore or Marlee Matlin), a disabled character who appears in film (such as Dr. Gillespie, the Phantom of the Opera, or Captain Hook), or how a disability is treated over a number of films (such as blindness in film or disfigurement in film). The choice is yours. As long as the topic relates to disability and film (from any era), it’s more than welcome.
Caveat: I don’t want this blogathon to be about characters with a terminal illness (that’s a topic for a whole other blogathon). The focus of the film or films should be on living with a disability rather than on dying. I’d also like to distinguish between mental illness (a topic for another blogathon) and mental or developmental disability (fair game here).
2. Duplicates are welcome. While many blogathons don’t allow duplicates, I’m more than happy to have more than one person blogging about the same topic, especially with this subject as people may have radically different perspectives on the same topic.
3. To express your interest in participating in the blogathon, leave a comment on my blog, along with the name and URL of your blog, and the subject you wish to cover, or you can always register by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For those of you who wish to register by email, please be sure to include the name and URL of your blog, and the topic you wish to cover. Once you get confirmation, please spread the word about this blogathon by advertising the event on your blog. Below are a few banners, so grab yourself a banner, and let’s examine a subject that doesn’t come up often enough in films and film criticism.
ROSTER, WITH THE LIST OF PARTICIPATING BLOGS:
Pop Culture Reverie: Bright Victory (1951)
In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Lionel Barrymore; A Child Is Waiting (1963)
wolffian classics movies digest: A Patch of Blue (1965)
The Wonderful World of Cinema: Kenneth Wilchek (Marlon Brando) in The Men (1950)
Old Hollywood Films: The Miracle Worker (1962)
Phyllis Loves Classic Movies: Eyes in the Night (1942)
Meredy.com Classic Movies/TV/Celebrities: Susan Peters and The Sign of the Ram (1948)
Crimson Kimono: Children of a Lesser God (1986)
Movie Movie Blog Blog: Freaks (1932)