Sound and Fury

"Extraordinary"

Sound and Fury Review


While we continue to watch the Michael Crichton take on the cochlear implant-kitsch on E.R., some people are actually dealing with the issue rather than racking up ratings. One of these people is director Josh Aronson, ex-still photographer and now-documentarian whose latest, Sound and Fury, takes on the should-they-or-shouldn't-they issue of the use of cochlear implantation to restore hearing.

For some background on the subject, a cochlear implant is, in simplistic terminology, a cure for deafness. If implanted into a child with hearing loss at an early age, there is no reason that the child cannot live a "normal" life. So, as many people who enter into the theatre asked themselves, what is the issue?

Well, for those who do not know Deaf people, there is an entire "Deaf culture." This culture uses American Sign Language, not lip reading, as its official language, and takes comfort in the fact that its members are composed entirely of the minority of the Deaf. Like many minority cultures composed of people with disabilities, a psychological self-defense mechanism makes the disability into an improvement. A Deaf man might say, "Because I cannot hear, I do not have to deal with the distractions of noise."

This same phenomenon is also found in the mentally ill, and, although it sounds ridiculous in the eyes of the layperson (why not fix something that is broken?), for people who have grown up being Deaf, it is an accusation to say that deafness is wrong... and that is at the heart of Sound and Fury.

Sound and Fury examines two Long Island families, one composed of hearing parents who have just given birth to a Deaf child, the other (the in-laws) composed entirely of Deaf people. Both are considering implanting their youngest child, and both have to deal with what that means to their respective cultures. Through countless interviews, with doctors, with the parents, and with other Deaf families, the issue is examined objectively until each of the decisions are made, and, although such a process might come across as long and tedious, it strikes the viewer as an incredibly emotional ordeal that eventually tears both families apart.

Sound and Fury is informative, well edited, and absolutely heartbreaking to watch, yet it does have a certain sensationalism around it. One wonders, watching the film, about the ethics of a filmmaker seeking to document a family in trouble. As the filmmaker tells of how he received notice of the families and politely asked if he could document their choices, you ask yourself if he knew the way the chips were going to fall. Still, his own ethics should not get in the way of stating the simple truth: that Sound and Fury is probably the most informative film on cochlear implants and on Deaf culture that one could ever hope to see.

Show and tell.



Sound and Fury

Facts and Figures

Run time: 80 mins

In Theaters: Saturday 1st January 2000

Distributed by: Artistic License Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 26 Rotten: 1

IMDB: 8.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Josh Aronson

Producer: Roger Weisberg

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