“A blind person should always walk using a white stick”. This phrase appears several times in the latest film by Andrzej Jakimowski (Tricks) ’Imagine’. Ian (Edward Hogg: Anonymous), a blind English teacher, comes to Lisbon. He wishes to teach visually impaired children and young people. At the clinic, which is located in the building of the monastery, he is given a chance to do so. Ian’s classes do not resemble the classic lessons in Braille. The mysterious stranger takes his pupils out of stuffy and monastic halls and forces them to walk around the backyard. However, he explains to them, for them to move freely around, they ought to imagine where they are and listen carefully to their surroundings. He demonstrates his abilities in walking without the white stick using only the echolocation technique.
Kids are skeptical; they have doubts as to whether Ian is blind, or just pretends to be. The teacher is far from being boring or a traditional tutor. Accused of lying by one of the pupils, he decides to use a bit of humour to prove he is visually impaired; just wait for those ‘lovely’ artificial and plastic eyes to pop out of his eyelids.
Among the students leaving in the monastery there is a mysterious character, a German woman, Eva (Alexandra Maria Lara). She rarely leaves her room. Every morning Eva opens the window to feed the birds. To Ian her isolation becomes a challenge. After awhile he manages to encourage Eva to go out with him. He imagines with her how Lisbon may look like; he lets us think that what he sees in his mind and hers, it’s what we might see on the screen. In the film, viewers will recognize the form through sound, which in my opinion was beautifully done.
‘Imagine’s’ imagination actually marks the boundaries of the independence of the blind; sight is the least important sense in the world created by the enigmatic Ian. He doesn’t give up on walking without the white stick even after getting some bruises and scratches. His rebellion against the established rules meets with the rejection of those able to see. And that exact rejection will lead to Ian’s unlucky downfall. I like the way Edward portrays the protagonist. He is like a self-appointed prophet, forcing his students to believe in the impossible. It was such a memorable performance, I really connected emotionally with Ian’s character. He gave me the freedom to imagine things without even looking at them. The children and young people we see in Imagine had no previous acting experience and they were also visually impaired. As the director said: “They were all great to work with”
The beautiful cinematography by Adam Bajerski added to the character of the movie too. I wasn’t really keen on the music by Tomasz Gassowski, however, the film was wonderfully directed by Jakimowski. He received the Best Director Award for ‘Imagine’ at the 28th Warsaw Film Festival. The film was screened at the 56th BFI London Film Festival 2012 and the Toronto International Film Festival and it was positively received. ‘Imagine’ is a very moving and absolutely captivating film.
Written by Maggie Gogler