I am not being ironic in the slightest when I say that you've never seen a film that deals with a moral dilemma quite like the one in SOUND & FURY, an Oscar nominee (2001) for Best Documentary Feature.The movie deals in an even-handed, unsensationalistic manner with the controversy surrounding cochlear implants, medical devices which allow deaf children to hear. The controversy comes from an unexpected quarter: the deaf community. A lot of deaf people oppose these gizmos because, they argue--and quite persuasively--they will rob children of their ability to relate to the "deaf culture" in which they were born.
It is strange to be introduced to a society that divides the human populace into the "hearing world" and the "deaf world," and this is what Sound & Fury does. We're allowed a look into a family ravaged by the cochlear controversy: a proud father, himself deaf from birth, refuses to allow his young hearing-impaired daughter to undergo the procedure, much to the outrage of his (hearing) relatives.
At the heart of Sound & Fury is a simple question: Is he right or wrong? Is it best to become "normal" or is it best to play with the cards you've been dealt? Is deafness a disability or a blessing in disguise? Before you answer, consider this: The procedure is not 100% effective, and the child is in danger of becoming stuck in the middle of the hearing/deaf continuum, rejected by both worlds.
The film is generally well made, though the voice-over actors who translate for the deaf participants often sound too melodramatic. Whether the film is truly fair to both sides is open to question; by the end the filmmakers seem to imply that the deaf community should embrace modern technology, and I understand that this suggestion has outraged many. But even with this in mind, Sound & Fury offers no final answer; it provokes debate but doesn't resolve it.It's a compelling documentary that, simply by the novelty of its viewpoint, neatly avoids the talking-heads syndrome. Go see it.