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Written by: n/a
Directed by: Josh Aronson
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 80
Date: 01/01/2000

Sound and Fury (2000)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Right Hear, Right Now

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Perhaps the most intriguing and frustrating question of recent years has been whether to treat all people -- all races, sexes, and sexual orientations -- as equals, or whether to stay true to traditions and heritage, and keep the differences between us underlined. Now a new documentary opens up another chapter in this debate, and a world that many of us never knew existed -- as only great documentaries can do.

I imagine that I was not the only one who assumed that deaf people would choose to hear if they could. Not so, according to Josh Aronson's Sound and Fury, which charts two brothers, one deaf and one hearing, and their families. Both brothers have deaf children and they're both considering a cochlear implant to help them hear. Both brothers conduct research, talking to families who have had the implant. The deaf brother, Peter, sees the implant as a betrayal of his heritage, which includes the mastery of sign language. The hearing brother, Chris, realizes that if his hearing child will have advantages that deaf kids won't have.

At first, I was angry at Peter for his supposed closed-mindedness. His arguments came across as rants to me. His hatred and suspicion of the hearing world bordered on racism. But as the film progressed, his arguments became increasingly clearer. I began to see that the cochlear implant threatens to wipe out the entire deaf community and the world they've built for themselves, and especially their language. On the other hand, Chris has good arguments as well, and goes through with the operation, much to Peter's disappointment and rage.

Director Aronson brilliantly weaves these two stories together, interviewing all the family members; the parents, the brothers' wives, and community members. He presents all the information and raises all the difficult questions, but doesn't attempt to answer anything for us. He trusts us to bring our own thoughts and experiences to the film. The only flaw in the film is the annoying voice-overs to translate the sign language to audiences who won't understand. Subtitles would have worked better.

Sound and Fury is an infuriating and powerful documentary that is sure to provoke passionate arguments, and may even inspire viewers to learn sign language.

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