“The miracle worker”: Helen Keller’ story

Let’s go ahead reviewing the works which dealt with disability talking about “The miracle worker”,  that has also inspired plays ‘til nowadays, as well as a 1981 anime and, as you probably remember if you were children in the ‘80s, it was mentioned in the Japanese manga “Garasu no kamen”, with its main character, a young aspiring actress, who has to play exactly this story.

"The Miracle Worker"

Award-winning (two Oscar awards in 1963, for Anne Bancroft as the main character and Patty Duke, who played Anne, plus many other awards), “The miracle worker” tells the real story of Helen Keller, a woman who lived in the USA between the end of the Nineteenth Century and the ‘60s of the Twentieth Century and became deafblind when she was 2 years old, probably due to meningitis. Helen, who previously was spoiled and pleased in all things by her parents, starts making headway and conquering her own autonomy when she’s entrusted to Anne Sullivan, a young partially-sighted teacher who, mixing patience, dedication and authority, teaches the child that, despite her condition, she can learn speaking, reading, studying and have an autonomous life as well. The most famous scene of the movie is that where Helen pronounces the word “water” after Anne has made it pour on her hands, repeating the letters the word is made up of:

"The Miracle Worker" - Helen Keller on her graduation day

Helen Keller on her graduation day

The movie ends here, but Helen Keller’ story goes on. She, under Anne’ guidance, gradually makes headway, to the extent that learns several foreign languages and, at 24, becomes the first deafblind to graduate in a college.  She will spend the rest of her long life personally being committed to disabled people and workmen rights, as a lawyer, and, then, as a member of the American Socialist Party, visiting many countries, for instance Japan, from where- another record of hers- she will import in the USA two “Akita Inu” dogs. Her commitment was also awarded with the highest honour in the USA, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The movie “The miracle worker” is very similar to Helen Keller’ real life and, thanks to its powerful scenes, an intentionally claustrophobic setting and the usage of black and white, portrays the drama and, meanwhile, the “miracle” (precisely) of  Helen’ learning and discovering the world around her, reminding to us that nothing is impossible in itself:  you just have to find the right way to reach your goal.

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