The Review of the Thought-Provoking Drama "Children of a Lesser God"

The "Children of a Lesser God" essay analyzes the thought-provoking drama that explores the complexities of communication and relationships, with exceptional performances by William Hurt and Marlee Matlin.

Analysis of the Plot

"Children of a Lesser God" is a 1986 drama film that tells the story of James Leeds (William Hurt), a speech therapist who is hired to work at a school for the deaf. Leeds is tasked with helping his deaf students communicate more effectively with the hearing world, but he faces resistance from Sarah Norman (Marlee Matlin), a custodian at the school who is deaf and refuses to speak or lip-read.

Despite their initial differences, Leeds and Norman develop a close relationship and fall in love. However, their relationship is strained by their inability to fully understand each other, with Norman feeling frustrated by Leeds' attempts to make her speak and Leeds struggling to comprehend Norman's resistance to communication.

As their relationship becomes more complicated, Leeds becomes embroiled in a dispute between the school's administration and its deaf students, who are fighting for their right to use American Sign Language (ASL) as their primary form of communication. The conflict ultimately comes to a head, forcing Leeds to choose between his commitment to the school and his love for Norman.

The film is a powerful exploration of the complexities of communication and relationships, with exceptional performances by Hurt and Matlin, the latter of whom became the first deaf actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Sarah Norman. Through its poignant and thought-provoking story, "Children of a Lesser God" sheds light on the barriers that exist between the deaf and hearing worlds, and the challenges of acceptance and understanding.

The Cinematography of This Film

The cinematography in "Children of a Lesser God" is both subtle and masterful, effectively conveying the emotions and experiences of the deaf characters. The film's use of close-up shots of the actors' faces is particularly effective, allowing the audience to see the intricate movements of their hands and facial expressions as they communicate through sign language. In addition, the use of lighting and color is used to great effect in the film, with warm, natural lighting used to create a sense of intimacy and connection between the characters, while cooler tones are used to create a sense of distance and isolation. The film's use of sound is also noteworthy, as it alternates between silence and a rich and textured soundtrack, with music and sound effects used to convey the emotions and experiences of the characters. The use of silence is particularly effective, as it allows the audience to experience the world from the perspective of the deaf characters, highlighting the importance of non-verbal communication.

And the Criticism of the Movie

While "Children of a Lesser God" was widely praised for its performances and themes of communication and relationships, it also faced some criticism upon its release. One common criticism of the film was its portrayal of deafness and deaf culture, with some arguing that it perpetuated negative stereotypes of deaf individuals as being unable to communicate effectively without the help of hearing people. Additionally, some critics argued that the film's focus on the relationship between Leeds and Norman overshadowed the larger issues facing the deaf community, such as discrimination and the fight for language rights. They felt that the film missed an opportunity to delve deeper into these issues and instead chose to prioritize the romantic storyline. There were also some who criticized the film's casting of William Hurt, a hearing actor, in the role of a deaf character, arguing that it perpetuated the erasure of deaf actors in Hollywood and limited opportunities for authentic representation of the deaf community.


Despite these criticisms, "Children of a Lesser God" remains a powerful and thought-provoking film that continues to resonate with audiences today. While it may not be without its flaws, it is an important work that helped to shed light on the challenges and complexities of communication and relationships, and the barriers that exist between the deaf and hearing worlds. Moreover, the cinematography in "Children of a Lesser God" is both visually stunning and emotionally resonant, effectively conveying the complexities of communication and relationships in a way that is both beautiful and thought-provoking.

04 April 2023
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