Isn’t it time disabled actors and directors were allowed to make their own films?
Sally Hawkins shines as a mute woman in Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar hopeful The Shape of Water.
But imagine if cinema actually opened up to film-makers with disabilitiesThe Oscar frontrunner The Shape of Water is being hailed as a breakthrough in the cinematic presentation of disabled characters.
Its protagonist, Elisa, played by Sally Hawkins, is a mute cleaner who bonds with a mysterious humanoid sea creature and uses American Sign Language to communicate.But, despite the plaudits, The Shape of Water trades in the mainstream cinema tropes of depicting disabled people as The Other, something it has in common with recent films such as Stronger and Breathe, which are about the “horror” of an acquired impairment.
Disability in such films helps to define normality and reassure able-bodied audiences that they are “normal” – disability is abnormal and something to be feared.
Awards-season cinema is a modern freak show where
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