Gripping Human Drama
The idea for the unusual expedition originated when Erik Weihenmayer, the blind American mountain climber who’d famously summited Everest, was invited by Braille Without Frontiers co-founder Sabriye Tenberken to meet students at the school for the blind that she‘d established in Lhasa, Tibet, where blind people are outcasts, considered to have committed past life evils that brought them to sightlessness in this life.
Six students--Kyila, Sonam Bhumtso, Tashi, Gyenshen, Dachung and Tenzin--step up to the challenge. They start their training on rocks on low altitude terrain, they learn how to use poles and pitons, and then set off to climb the mountain that so few people have conquered, the mountain that has claimed so many lives.
No spoilers here. You’ll have to see the movie to find out how the three week-long journey goes and whether the teenagers and their American guides safely summit Lhakpa Ri. But, as it turns out, reaching the summit isn’t the trek’s true goal. The height of their achievement is their gain in self esteem, their sense of success, of team work, trust in each other and the establishment of lifelong friendships--and the knowledge that they can do great things in the future.
Given her remarkable cast of characters, Walker does a brilliant verite job of weaving the six teenagers’ stories--including the tale of Tashi’s unexpected reunion with his long lost father--with those of Erik and his American team, and Sabriye and her partner, Paul Kronenberg, into a marvelously moving drama that gives insight into the inner strength and strength of character blind people must have to overcome the seeing world‘s misconceptions about their abilities and discomforts with their needs. “We are blind, but our hearts are not blind. They are not blind, but their hearts are blind,“ says Tenzin, with a shy smile.
Sabriye, who climbs the mountain, too, emerges as a sensitive and forceful commentator. An educator to the core, she went Tibet on her own after being rejected by the German peace corps because of her blindness. She founded Tibet’s first school for the blind, and succeeded in changing public perceptions about blindness and what the blind can do.
Additionally, Blindsight opens our eyes to Tibet, and gives us unusual access to an extraordinarily rich culture which is so different from our own. This film is a trip that must be taken.
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- Release Date: 2008 in limited release
- Running Time: 104 mins.
- MPAA Rating: PG for some language and content
- Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
- Location: Tibet
- Language: English, Tibetan, German, with English subtitles
- Company: Robeson Entertainment, Image Entertainment