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The Production
From the beginning, Fernando Meirelles knew that creating BLINDNESS on screen would, ironically, require truly original imagery that could pull audiences deep into the shock and disorientation of the characters and hold them riveted to this world. To design a film that could do that, the director brought with him many of his trusted and talented artistic crew from "City of God,” including: Oscar® nominated cinematographer César Charlone, who would use his experiences in the "blindness workshops” to help forge the film's visual simulations of the "White Blindness”; Academy Award® nominated editor Daniel Rezende, who worked closely with Meirelles to structure the film's shifting, sinuous points of view; and production designer Tulé Peak, who turned a prison into the hastily crafted internment camp that critics of Saramago's novel compared to Dante's Inferno, and transformed a once cosmopolitan city into a ravaged urban wasteland for BLINDNESS.

Adhering to Saramago's wish that the film, like the novel, be set in an unidentified city, which lends it a timeless universality, the production of BLINDNESS was shot in three different countries but no identifying signs were used. Most of the early exteriors were filmed in the large, vibrant city of Sao Paolo, Brazil, which also happens to be Meirelles' home town; the middle section of the film, set in the asylum-turned-quarantine-camp, was shot in a defunct prison in Guelph, Canada; and the film's climax, which unfolds against the shattered landscape of a completely disrupted metropolis, was shot in both Sao Paolo and Montevideo, Uruguay (a city suggested by cinematographer César Charlone who hails from Uruguay originally.)

A former architect, Meirelles is fascinated by structure but also by creative providence. He notes that his favorite moments in filmmaking are when a simple cut changes the meaning of a scene, when a camera movement suddenly seems to take on a soul of its own, when the music hits just the right tone for a scene, when an actor connects with a powerful emotion – and he is thrilled that all of these things happened on BLINDNESS.

Throughout, he was guided most powerfully by the quotation in the frontispiece of José Saramago's novel (from the ancient Book of Exhortations): "If you can see, look. If you can look, observe.” After all, this story about blindness, Meirelles summarizes, "is really about learning to see.”


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