14 September 2008

The Miracle Worker (starring Patty Duke and Anne Bancroft)

As far as I remember, this is one of many DVDs we were given by a relative, who acquired it as a free gift with a Sunday newspaper. I'm not sure we would ever have bought it; it's rather an under-rated version of a true story that would not naturally appeal to many people.

Moreoever, 'The Miracle Worker', in this 1962 version, is in black and white, giving it a rather dated feel at first glance. However, we were very quickly drawn into the story. It's based on
the life of Helen Keller, a girl in the USA who was both deaf and blind, due to a serious illness in babyhood.

With no way of communicating with Helen - and a great deal of sympathy for her plight - her parents had no idea how to handle her. She had become totally wild, prone to horrendous tantrums and, even more worryingly, was increasingly dangerous to herself and others. So eventually a young teacher (Anne Bancroft) was employed to try and bring some control to her life, and see if she could help Helen to communicate via signs, traced on her hands.

The acting was superb, particularly by Patty Duke who played Helen. She and her teacher dominated the film, with the other characters rather flat, but that didn't matter. My only minor gripe is that the film ended rather abruptly. I would like to have seen more of the story, as I know that Helen Keller went on to do amazing things with her life.

We were also disappointed in the sound quality of this particular edition; we had to switch on subtitles as we found we were missing so much of the conversation. But perhaps that was a problem with the DVD itself.

Highly recommended, in any case.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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