First published in the July 2011 edition of the Hearing Times.
Ted Evans made his very promising debut short, GA, last year. The End, his second film, is a stunning step up. A drama made in a documentary style, The End spans a 60 year time frame to chart the impact of a revolutionary ‘treatment’ that offers deaf people the chance to become hearing.
With a structure that reminded me of the classic TV documentary series 7 up, we follow a group of deaf children – Arron, Sophia, Luke and Mohammed – from 1987 through to 2046.
We first meet them in school – wearing radio aids in a classroom – telling us about their aspirations as deaf people. Later, we learn how the ‘treatment’ has impacted all their lives – whether they decided to have it or not. Relationships are altered, lives change, and something very important threatens to be lost.
A key strength of the film is the way that different perspectives on the ‘treatment’ are portrayed. When we encounter the views of hearing politicians and medical companies responsible for it, the language they use made me cringe – because it subtly revealed attitudes towards deafness that I’ve witnessed in real life.
Through a mixture of interviews, observational footage and even a few special effects, The End feels utterly real. The writing and direction are completely believable and naturalistic, and there’s great cinematography too. Of the actors, Terry Edwards, Brian Duffy and Alex Nowak deserve particular praise.
In its subject matter, The End could well prove to be ahead of its time. Just weeks before I saw the film, I learned about a possible real-life treatment for deafness which sounded similar to the ‘treatment’ dramatised here. This film manages to dramatise something in just 24 minutes which is very hard to explain through words alone – what would be lost, in a world where deafness no longer exists.
The End builds up to a compelling and emotional conclusion, in particular an amazing final shot which left me stunned, and stayed in my mind long after the final credits rolled. It’s simply outstanding, and original – it fully deserves to win a number of awards. Whatever you do, don’t miss it.
You can see The End in full at: http://www.bslbt.co.uk/zoom/films/zoom_focus_2011/the_end/
The End was funded by the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust as part of the Zoom Focus scheme, and was produced by Neath Films.