Mandy was directed by Alexander MacKendrick, and the film was produced by Ealing Studios.
This one is a real gem. In addition to being a very good film, it also serves as an educational experience for people who don’t know much about deafness. The sequences set at the deaf school were filmed on location at the Royal Schools For The Deaf in Manchester (now called The Seashell Trust).
The film also has strong performances from all in the cast, and it is a beautiful film showing there is hope out there during tough times.
The film also features one of the best performances by a child actor (Mandy Miller) that I have ever seen. Mandy is such a natural young actress and she conveys so much in this film with her expressions and eyes alone. The fact that she is so young and can convey so much emotion in such a natural way is impressive. Mandy wasn’t in very many films, and I think that is a real shame and loss, she was a very gifted young lady.
The film also does so much to highlight that people who are deaf are just like the rest of us. If taught and helped properly, they can communicate, cope and live perfectly normal lives. At the time of the films release, illness and disability still had much stigma attached to them. Issues such as deafness were swept under the carpet so to speak. People didn’t want to know about such things. Shame on them I say, disability is not catching!
I also really hope that people who saw this film back at the time of release came to understand that deaf people(and anyone else with a disability for that matter)are just as normal as anyone else. I also hope this film helped educate people more about the condition of deafness.
At first glance Mandy(Mandy Miller)seems like any other child her own age. Mandy has one slight difference though, she was born deaf. Mandy’s parents Christine and Harry(Phyllis Calvert and Terence Morgan)raise her at home. Because she can’t speak to them, she is mute and can’t communicate with her family or anyone else, as she has no concept of language. As she gets older, she becomes hard to control and becomes a danger to herself. Mandy withdraws into herself and doesn’t understand the dangers surrounding her in everyday life.
Eventually Mandy is taken to a residential deaf school, which is run by the progressive teacher, Dick Searle (Jack Hawkins). Here, Mandy can at last make friends and learn how to communicate in a hearing world. The growing friendship between Christine and Searle, that so easily could have developed into a romance, is touching and well conveyed by Hawkins and Calvert.
The film also does a good job of showing the strain that can exist in the lives of family members of people with disabilities. The parents in the film are loving and devoted, but they know that Mandy needs professional help. Dealing with her condition and with her going away to school places a strain on the marriage.
All the adults do a good job here, but are essentially supporting roles. Mandy is the real star of this one.
Jack Hawkins is excellent as the gruff teacher who doesn’t act in a conventional way. He doesn’t care about manners etc, he just wants to help the children and do a good job as a teacher. This attitude makes him disliked by the schools governing board. He’s the man for the job, and he will help no matter what they say.
An uplifting, moving and very interesting film that raises awareness about deafness.
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