Samurai, superheroes (and occasional realism)

Our top 5 films about vision impairment or sight loss

Hollywood often plays fast and loose with the facts when it comes to eyesight and the loss of vision in films. Here are five noteworthy examples of movies where vision impairment is a significant factor…

From action thrillers to romances, comedies to documentaries, there are many films where the main character is either blind or partially sighted. Be they absurd or realistic, the films on our list are certainly worth checking out.

5. Ray

Telling the story of the legendary Ray Charles this film is at times both heartbreaking and uplifting. After losing his sight at age seven Ray goes from the poor son of sharecroppers to a multi-million selling, award-winning musician. At the heart of this film is a truly brilliant performance by Jamie Foxx – it’s easy to forget he’s simply playing the part!

4. Zatoichi

This is one of Japan’s longest running film and television series, entertaining audiences with tales of the blind masseur / sworsdman since 1962. It would be remade with Rutger Hauer as Blind Fury in 1989 and with a bloody 2003 remake by acclaimed director Takeshi Kitano. The ‘avenging blind man’ genre would be added to with the likes of Book of Eli and Daredevil also.

3. Scent of a Woman

Did you know this Oscar-winning Al Pacino drama is actually a very faithful remake of a 1974 Italian film? Pacino’s diligence in preparing for the film involved meeting with the Lighthouse Guild in New York, where he would learn how a blind person might find a chair or pour a drink. The result is an enthralling and uplifting drama that won plaudits for its performances.

2. Blindsight

An inspiring documentary, Blindsight follows six Tibetan teenagers as they attempt to climb the 23,000 ft Lhakpa Ri mountain. The ascent is far more challenging due to their blindness – and so too are their lives in the village where ignorance and superstition stalk the teenagers.  Another great documentary worth hunting down is the 2017 film Shot in the Dark, which follows three blind photographers in their quest.

1. Proof

Starring a young Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe, this under-rated drama takes a multi-faceted, no-frills perspective on living with sight impairment. While other approaches may have amped up the emotion the unpretentious Aussie film takes a different approach, drawing the viewer in to a realistic and rewarding look at trust and betrayal, friendship and forgiveness. 

A Guardian review said the film is “an enormously compelling character study and a triangular drama buoyed by three fine performances”.