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Titlea critical re-examination of the construction, production and representations of physic
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Title
Disability, deficiency and excess: a critical re-examination of
the construction, production and representations of physical
disability in contemporary European film

Author(s) Casey, James

Publication
Date 2014-06-26

Item record http://hdl.handle.net/10379/5163

Page 2

Disability, Deficiency and Excess: A Critical Re-examination of the

Construction, Production and Representations of Physical Disability in

Contemporary European Film





James Casey B.A., M.A.



Submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) to the



National University of Ireland, Galway



Department of English and The Huston School of Film and Digital

Media



September 2014



















Supervisors of the Research:

Dr. Cliodhna Carney, Dr. Seán Crosson, & Prof. Rod Stoneman.

Page 104

103



103










Image removed for copyright reasons












The Sea Inside, DVD, Directed by

Alejandro Amenábar, Spain, Fine Line Pictures and Sogepaq, 2004.





















Image removed for copyright reasons















This pathetic fallacy of the environment suggests, in a metaphorical manner, the

turmoil that impairment is perceived to bring to the normal body. This is conveyed by

our position as normate viewers, being able to identify with the figure we see on

screen as he walks across the beach. The sensations he feels, the temperature on his

skin, the texture of the wet sand are all identifiable. When the shot cuts to the

bedroom scene with the thunderous sky in the exterior we may maintain our

Page 105

104



104

identification with Ramón. How do we feel now? Nature in all its fury has shifted

from the tranquillity of the previous scene to exert its chaotic force. It is out of

persuasive.

Furthermore, the desirability for non-disabledness is reinforced by the very

conditions of the environment, while the wholesome and proper feeling of the beach

where one can feel and experience the sensations fully, where one can interact with

the environment, is in sharp contrast to the full force of the storm. When the weather

rages we are at its mercy, we become helpless, akin to our disabled protagonist.

Amenábar makes good use of the communicative power of nature to persuade the

viewer repeatedly of the desirability of euthanasia. For example, nature as represented

occurred when he attempted to dive head first into a shallow pool some 29 years

previously. He survived, but he cannot, and indeed does not wish to cheat nature.

returns to the ocean for him it is a space of peace and refuge. However, it is only in

his imagination that he can tolerate to look upon it as the view from his window is of

green hills and there is no ocean to be seen.

Throughout the film, the pathetic fallacy of the landscape is used to great

effect to represent the unconscious state of the disabled characters of Ramón and

Julia. Harper and Rayner note on the issue of how landscape can operate in film, that;

18
They write

[and] in film metaphor en
19



If we apply the observations of Harper and Rayner to The Sea Inside we can then

perceive the sea, as imagined in the opening scene and the storm in the proceeding

one, as metaphorical indicators of a preference for non-disabledness by the,

presumably, non-disabled viewer. The sensations that Ramón feels when on the

an arena full of sensation and movement, of texture and temperature. This is forever

lost to him in his present predicament because of the effects of his quadriplegia. The

following rainstorm scene, operating as a form of pathetic fallacy, is suggestive of


18

Cinema and Landscape ed. Graeme Harper & Jonathon Rayner

(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 20. Similar to how pathetic fallacy operates as a literary term of personification, in

film it is used as a device to indicate various visual cues to the viewer that is in the mise en scène.
19

Ibid.

Page 207

206



206

Million Dollar Baby, Dir. Clint Eastwood, Perf. Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood,

Warner Brothers, USA, 2004.



My Left Foot, Dir. Jim Sheridan, Perf. Day-Lewis Daniel, Shaw Fiona, McAnally

Ray, Fricker Brenda, Screenplay by Shane Connaughton & Jim Sheridan, Based on a

book by Christy Brown, Edited by J. Patrick Dufner, Granada, Ire/UK 1989.



Rainman, Dir. Barry Levinson Perf. Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, United Artists,

USA, 1988.



Tesis, Dir. Alejandro Amenábar, Perf. Ana Torrent, Miguel Picazo, Sogepaq, Spain,

1996.



The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Dir. Julian Schnabel, Perf. Mathieu Amalric,

Marina Hands, Pathe Renn Productions, France, 2007.



The Sea Inside, Dir. Alejandro Amenábar, Perf. Javier Bardem, Belen Rueda.

Sogepaq, Spain/France/Italy, 2004.



Vital Signs: Crip Culture Talks Back, Dirs. David T. Mitchell and Sharon L. Snyder,

Documentary, Brace Yourself Productions, USA, 1995. (Available online at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5rWHA0KcFc).

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