In the Land of the Deaf

(Le Pays des sourds). If you have never imagined that music could be made without sound, that poetry is a gesture, that hearing has its limitations and deafness its blessings, you should see this movie. Philibert enters “the land of the deaf” as a territory of the imagination. Whether it is little children learning to be open to sounds, then courageously reproducing them; teenagers whose shared ability to speak without words effects real communication; or adults who have come through the hell of society's ignorance to the relief of language, Philibert approaches hearing/not-hearing as a process, a coming into being. In this and other ways this can be seen as a companion film to To Be and To Have. Here, too, the camera has its stars (impish kids, equally impish elders) and finds its sly stories (a wedding ceremony hastily translated for the deaf bride and groom). But the true star is language, spoken in the deep eloquence of quiet.

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