Land of the Blind
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A tyrannical monarch who represses free speech and thinks little of his citizenry is ultimately overthrown by a radical rebellion that promises to return power to the people. However, in this postrevolutionary world, do the new leaders create a better society or do they simply become just like those they replaced? History shows that we could be describing any number of events: the Bolshevik Revolution and the formation of the Soviet Union; the rise of the Nazis in Germany; Castro's overthrow of Batista in Cuba; the Ayatollah Khomeini's overthrow of the Shah of Iran; and the advent of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Each of these major geopolitical and social earthquakes took shape thanks to nationalistic movements growing out of the depths of oppression. Similar events create the backdrop for first-time feature writer/director Robert Edwards' startling political satire Land of the Blind, in which Ralph Fiennes plays a soldier who begins questioning his government after he befriends a political prisoner (Donald Sutherland). When the soldier helps the dissident overthrow the government, he soon discovers the truth in the old dictum: absolute power does, in fact, corrupt absolutely. Land of the Blind takes place in an unnamed country during an unspecific time period, but its all too timely look at terrorism and revolution-encapsulated within the framework of a memory play-will seem eerily familiar to most. Edwards has created a stylish and complex drama that captivates from its opening moments and keeps its audience thinking long after the credits roll.
Director's Statement Collapse
Land of the Blind grew out of my interest in history and politics, and the question of what a lone individual can or should do in the face of matters far weightier than oneself. I had been mulling the story idea over since the late 1990's, and I finally sat down to write it in early 2001 while making the feature documentary Sumo East and West with my partner Ferne Pearlstein. The film is set in an indeterminate place and time in order to lend it a fable-like tone and give me the liberty to play with various historical threads, freed from the limitations of naturalism and the tyranny of historical accuracy that come with a specific place and time. The humor in the film is something that many people find controversial given its otherwise grim subject matter, but to me black comedy is a natural response to the topic. Every day I pick up the newspaper and read something more absurd and outrageous than anything I would have dared make up. These days it is hard to stay ahead of the satire curve. Many people, especially in the U.S., have interpreted the film-particularly its first half-as a pointed commentary on the current American administration. But in truth that is largely coincidental, since I wrote the script long before September 11 or the war in Iraq, and intended a broader, more universal commentary. But since the very point is that these historical patterns tend to repeat, perhaps it is not entirely coincidental that circumstances have conspired to make it timely. So, if the shoe fits, wear it.
Film Information Collapse
[LANDO] | 2006 | 102 | Narrative Feature
Directed by: Robert Edwards and Steven Lippman
Foreign Title: (Land of the Blind)
Premiere: North American
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About the Director(s)Collapse
Robert Edwards attended Stanford University's graduate program in documentary film. His 2001 short The Voice of the Prophet was shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, and on television around the world. His script for Land of the Blind won a Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2003, Edwards produced and edited Sumo East and West, which was screened at TFF 2004 and also aired on PBS. Edwards is currently adapting The Bomb in My Garden for Warner Bros., and his screenplay Trust is scheduled to begin shooting this summer.