Review written by S.H.
When I was a kid, one of my whimsy questions was if my eyes are colored differently than my natural brown colored eyes, I would see the world differently. Because I thought I was “seeing” the world through my eyes, foreigners with eyes colored blue, green, and gray would see it differently. I wanted to have an eye transplant so that I could see the world with their eyes. Now, I question to the kid inside myself that whether I think that people with the same colored eyes would see the world identically. The movie, Blue Eyes, answers to the question that we see the world according to what eye colors we have somehow identically and somewhat differently.
The movie narrates its story of conflicts between people whose race, nationalities, and cultures are different. Its major role is a U.S. immigration officer who starts the conflict. On his last day at the job, he abuses his power upon foreign entrants whom they randomly choose by their nonsensical process of picking out some of them to interrogate the purpose of their entrance. During the process of interrogation, the officer oversteps his authority and provokes one of them by doubting and mocking his personal stories. Eventually, the violent argument between him and the officer grew into a physical fight and result in the tragic death of the entrant. His guilty conscience forces him to look for his only daughter in his motherland, Brazil. Arriving at his home, the officer finds out that everything he has confessed to him during the interrogation was true that he was a good citizen of U.S. working as a teacher who had a daughter with his ex-American wife. It ends with close-up shot on the blue-eyes of the daughter. And I thought this is a successful ending, which signifies that we see the world identically despite of our differently colored eyes.
The movie shows two types of spaces: one is the inside space of the interrogation room located aside of the entrants’ waiting room, and the other is the open space of Brazilian cities and roads. Although characters in the movie later utter where they are and identify the spaces, movie viewers recognize the spaces at first glance. Because existing visual cues in the movie actually exist in our lives, we have stored data of the cues by bottom-up processing as having already perceived and experienced in our lives. By seeing passports, officers’ costumes, and contrasting complexions of officers and people waiting in the other room, we “see” by top-down processing the immigrant waiting room of the U.S. airport. If the movie viewers have never been in airports, it would be difficult to see what the space is. Yet, the majority of the viewers are Americans who movies from city to city by flight due to their wide nation and foreigners who have come from outside of U.S.
These bottom-up and top-down processes drive the viewers to be engaged in the actions, events, and conflicts of the characters. When the conflict between the officer and the Brazilian-American man reaches its peak, with appearance of a gun, there happens aroused tension between them that affect the viewers. We see they are in danger that might cause one or both to be killed. The viewers perceive the gun as stimuli as the bottom-up processing of their brain reacts to what they see that is “thought to have simple physical properties that are inherently emotional: [because] bottom-up emotions are elicited largely by perceptions, which need not be accessible to conscious awareness and are often biologically prepared” (Mcrae et al., 2012). And after the man has been killed when the officer finds out that the stories of the man confessed to him are true, the viewers once more become engaged in feeling sympathy. For the viewers infer the circumstances and consequences around the actions and incidents performed by the characters by top-down process that “elicits largely by cognitions, which are not tied to any particular perceptual stimulus, but rather to linguistically represented appraisals that are usually accessible to conscious awareness”(Mcrae et al., 2012).
Perceiving, appreciating, and understanding and sympathizing others originates from seeing. For we perceive and experience the world by seeing. Although we have different eye colors, we see and experience the same world. For the biologically related bottom-up and cognitively connected top-down process of human beings functions identically. Still, I think, we see the same world differently according to what eye colors we have because like different complexions of we have, eye colors moderately reflect the difference of our races, nationalities, and furthermore cultures. After watching the movie, I was surprised by seeing my Professor because she was weeping. I was emotionally agitated by the tragic movie, because I as a foreigner living in U.S. could feel sympathy for the Brazilian-American man. Yet, the degree of how she felt sympathy for the man was distinctive from mine. For she who has come from Brazil shares the same culture with him and therefore the views of Brazil and its people and language had driven her to be engaged in the movie more than I had been who have come from different culture. Yes, we see the world through our eye. Yet, we largely perceive the world by our brain that mean seeing through ourselves.
Blue Eyes at the Mostra V: Brazilian Fim Series November 6, 2014.