Thursday, 4 August 2011

Recommended: Goodbye CP

This documentary from 1972 focuses on a group of people with cerebral palsy. The film focuses mostly on one, a poet, but also spends time with the others especially a photographer in the group.

The techniques of making the film are interesting. It’s shot in harsh black and white and the soundtrack is almost always out of sync, so it’s not the easiest documentary to watch. Close-ups and shots are held for longer than usual, asking the viewer to look at these people for longer than necessary, in contrast to the usual reaction of not looking at them at all. The narrative of the documentary, too, is interesting as Yokoto Hiroshi (the poet) expresses his increasing dissatisfaction with the way the film-making process is going.

The abiding memory is how ordinary these people are. The film walks a fine line between highlighting their physical disability and their characters. Perhaps the perfect example of this is right at the beginning when Hiroshi says he can cross the road faster on his knees (which is how he usually walks) than in his wheelchair, and he demonstrates this. But after a short while, he drops his glasses. He stops to pick them up and then tries to go faster, which causes him to stumble. It’s quite difficult to watch, but when he gets to the other side, he laughs and talks about how scared he was.

It’s a remarkable film, and definitely educational. It starts by being about cerebral palsy, but it ends by being about people with cerebral palsy.

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