Real Talkies

Real Talkies

Every cut is a lie. It’s never that way. Those two shots were never next to each other in time that way. But you’re telling a lie in order to tell the truth. –Wolf Koenig.

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November 18, 2010 , , , ,

Sound and Fury is a documentary about an extended family with three generations of deafness – two brothers their parents, wives and children and their struggle over whether or not to provide two deaf children with cochlear implants, devices that can stimulate hearing. The implants have the potential of providing easier access to the hearing world but will it take away from their identity as a deaf person and will they abandon the deaf culture. Will they opt to use a cochlear implant to break the silence for the their children?

Heather, daughter of Peter and Nita

Heather is 6 and wants to have a hearing implant to communicate with the hearing world. Both her parents are deaf and so are her two siblings.  After exploring the option and discussing with other families, Peter and Nita decide not to get the implant for their child. Marianna Heather’s grandmother and Peter’s mother does not agree with her son’s decision and is furious that an invaluable opportunity is being denied to her granddaughter. She does not want her to go through what her son had to go through as a child – being isolated, ignored and neglected by his hearing peers and miss out on the hearing world.

Peter’s brother, Chris and his wife Mari who can both hear, have twins. One of the twins is deaf and Chris and Mari opt to get their son a Cochlear implant. But Mari’s parents who are deaf are infuriated about this decision. They feel that forcing a deaf child to hear is wrong and the parents have no right to deny him his deaf culture.

The family is the epicenter of a very controversial issue in the deaf community and the viewer gets to witness the pros and cons from so many perspectives. Heather wants to hear for only one reason – she wants to interact with the hearing world, she wants to hear the sounds around her and relate to it. And I felt a tinge sad for her at the end of the film.

Heather 12 in 2006

Upon further research about the film, I found a follow up to the documentary. ‘Sound and Fury, 6 years later‘. Heather eventually got an implant when she was 9 years old (so happy for her), as did her 2 younger brothers, her mother, her deaf aunt and her 2 deaf cousins.  At 12, Heather was the only deaf child in her mainstream school. She takes classes with everyone else, plays basketball and volleyball, stays near the top of her class and is popular with her hearing peers. Heather’s speech is understandable and she delights in her speaking ability and communication skills.

Heather’s parents changed their minds, moved back to Long Island and re-joined their family. Heather’s father, who was so resistant to the implant in “Sound & Fury,” has through observation and education, learned how useful the implant can be for his children and is glad that they have it.

I do not know much about the deaf culture besides what I learned in the movie but I am glad to know that the family debated, weighed in all the options and did what was in the best interest of their child and went beyond their comfort zone and their worst fears.


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one can argue that it can go both ways

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November 29, 2010

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