The Tribe

“I’m taking an ASL class! Have I mentioned that yet? I’ve only had two classes so far (3 by the time this posts), but it’s been really fun. I’ve had an interest in sign language for a very long time, and I’ve built up small bits of vocabulary here and there. But it was seeing Deaf West Theatre’s revival of Spring Awakening on Broadway that renewed my interest enough to sign up for a class.

So why am I talking about this? I thought this was a movie blog, not a general what’s-Dawn-been-doing-with-her-life-blog (although since watching movies is what I’m doing, is it both?) I bring it up because I noticed that the Brattle was playing The Tribe, a recently release Ukrainian film that features a deaf cast and no spoken dialog. Conveniently, the Brattle is just a few doors down from where I’m taking my class, and it’s only showing would be an hour after my weekly class. It was fated. Oh and even better, the place in Harvard Square that’s known for it’s really really good hot chocolate is one of the few doors in between the two, so I had a nice place to hang out and read The Martian in between.

Right, so this movie. It’s about students at a boarding school for the deaf, told from the perspective of a new student. These kids are into all sorts of bad: robbery, prostitution, violence, etc. For me, what was really interesting was the deaf culture, the way these kids would relate to each other. I read an article about the film that said that in many ways, they were more expressive than they ever could have been with spoken words, and I’m very much inclined to agree. I didn’t always know the details of what was happening, but the emotion was unmistakable.

It kind of went on for a long time, and there were scenes I felt didn’t need to be as long as they were, but it was still fascinating. To my knowledge, a film of this level has never been attempted like this, so it’s definitely worth checking out if it’s of interest. I will warn that there’s some pretty intense scenes though. Again, most of these kids are up to no good, and they exhibit some behavior that’s shocking in any context.

With my limited (but growing) vocabulary, I think I caught a whole two words. Then again, it wasn’t American Sign Language, so I don’t feel to bad about it. Incidentally, when watching the Spring Awakening video I linked earlier, I did catch a good 25ish% of what Marlee Matlin signed to intro it. Yay!”

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