Helen Keller is among the closest issues the United States has to a secular saint. Born in 1880, she misplaced her listening to and her sight earlier than she was 2 years outdated. With the assistance of her equally legendary trainer, Anne Sullivan, she discovered to learn, to write down, to signal and to talk. Her writing was stunning, opening to readers a window into her world.
She lived an extended life, dying in 1968 on the age of 87. And she spent a lot of that life espousing socialism. The new documentary “Her Socialist Smile,” written, directed and shot by John Gianvito, is a captivating and difficult exploration of Keller’s political thought.
Gianvito’s formal method is a species of leftist avant-gardism. He begins the film with a good looking colour view of a tree, its branches lined in snow. The picture switches to black and white; the narrator, Carolyn Forché, fiddles with a music stand upon which she locations the texts she’s going to learn. Long passages of Keller’s writings seem onscreen, which the viewer reads in silence. When Forché narrates, the onscreen picture is said to the pure world that so enchanted Keller. We be taught of Keller’s excessive regard for “The Communist Manifesto” whereas watching a slug crawl on a mossy rock.
The method, which one supposes will be known as “dialectical,” shouldn’t be with out wit; one piece of archival footage, detailing the American Legion’s destruction of leftist literature, is from an early iteration of “Fox News.” (The newsreel one.)
Despite the film’s generally haughty, preaching-to-the-choir method, lay viewers shouldn’t be too deterred. Much of Keller’s thought is at the moment echoed in progressive circles that at the moment are greater than peripheral to the mainstream, and it’s fascinating to contemplate.
Her Socialist Smile
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. In theaters.