Helen Keller always fascinated me. I remember Helen Keller jokes as a child. What is Helen Keller's favorite color? Corduroy.<br/><br/>This still seems darkly funny to me. I think the joke actually makes you think about how a blind person "sees." It is a grim jest but it makes you think about a world without color.<br/><br/>Most people probably know about Helen Keller from the 1962 movie, "The Miracle Worker" directed by Arthur Penn. It is a great movie (although maybe too focused on Anne Sullivan). Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke both won Oscars for their portrayals.<br/><br/>I think most people remember the story as one of a patient and great teacher accomplishing a miracle by teaching a blind, deaf, almost wild young woman to speak, read, and live a normal life.<br/><br/>What is usually forgotten about Helen Keller is her full life as an activist. She was a popular speaker, author, and a social justice warrior (that that term is considered derisive by some conservatives speaks volumes about modern day conservatives).<br/><br/>This film will make you work. Since Helen's speaking voice was not very clear, the documentary, rather than having someone read what she wrote, shows the words in white type on a black background making the viewer read the words. It is very effective.<br/><br/>One of my favorite things in the film is the way they present excerpts from her speaking engagements. A question will appear on the screen and Helen's always witty and dead-on response is then displayed.<br/><br/>The film is beautifully photographed and has large stretches of silence. I believe the filmmakers are intentionally trying to make you aware of the senses that Helen Keller lacked.<br/><br/>Whether you agree with Helen's socialist views or not will realistically affect your enjoyment of the film, that is understandable, but learning about such a remarkable person should be secondary to political differences. I think anyone can enjoy the beautiful photography and appreciate the sheer beauty and earnest drive of the film.
Her Socialist Smile
Her Socialist Smile
Author, activist, lecturer, and crusader for those with disabilities, the extraordinary Helen Keller was unable to see or hear, yet through hard work became highly accomplished and famously outspoken. Her autobiography The Story of My Life and its dramatic adaptation The Miracle Worker made Keller's name a household word. John Gianvito's new film Her Socialist Smile is a spare, pure, and beautifully composed account of her political life as a supporter of progressive causes. Incorporating footage of her home life, her surroundings, and her teacher Anne Sullivan, the film's focal point shifts to Keller's own words-her many speeches-as she ardently advocates on behalf of the causes in which she so firmly believed. —National Gallery of Art
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