Tuesday, December 25, 2007

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A couple of days ago, Jodi was talking with a friend about crying during TV shows and movies. I thought back to the last time I cried over a story, and it turned out to be a newspaper article a few days ago. It's not sad, it's moving. I keep meaning to translate it but my time is being taken up elsewhere. Here's the first few paragraphs:

一间20多平方米的小屋里坐满了盲人。他们聚精会神,侧耳倾听。

一名男子走到电视机旁,拿起麦克风说:“欢迎大家来‘心目’,我是大伟,今天还是我陪大家看电影。我刚理了发,寸头,穿着灰色套头运动衫、白色衬衣、蓝色牛仔裤、棕色休闲皮鞋。”

“真精神!”观众中有人低声说。

开着灯讲电影

电影开始了,没有熄灯。

“画面上是一个私人游泳池,碧蓝的池水清澈见底,池边是一间白色的小屋。现在画面上出现的是导演的名字,叫斯科特。画面进入了屋里,白色条形百叶窗帘随着风轻轻摆动……”

屏幕上出现了电影的名字——《火柴人》,大伟解释说:“美国人把骗子称作火柴人,这部影片讲述的是两个骗子的故事。”

这是北京老城区钟鼓楼附近的一座普通四合院,也是京城盲人朋友津津乐道的“心目影院”。讲电影的人名叫大伟,40多岁,3年前自费创办了这间专为盲人服务的迷你影院。“心目影院”一周放一部影片,至今大伟已给4000多位盲人观众讲了上百部电影。

A 20 square-meter room is full of seated blind people. They concentrate together, listening attentively.

A man walks over and stands next to the television set, and says into the microphone: "Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Mind's Eye. My name is Dawei, and I will be watching a movie with you today. I've just gotten a haircut, a buzz-cut; I'm wearing a grey sweatshirt over a white shirt, blue jeans, and brown leather shoes.

"This guy's great!" somebody in the audience whispers.

A Well-Lit Theater

The movie has started, but the lights are still on.

"The setting is a private swimming pool, filled with crystal clear water. Next to the pool is a small white bungalow. Now the director's name is on the screen; his name is Scott. The camera enters the bungalow, where white shades in front of the window sway gently..."

On the screen I can see the name of the movie: "Matchstick Men". David explains: "In American, matchstick man means somebody who cheats other people. So this movie will tell the story of two con artists."

This is an ordinary siheyuan, a traditional courtyard house, in the Zhonggulou area of old Beijing. It is not only a home but also serves a function that makes it fondly spoken of by Beijing's blind residents: this siheyuan is host to the Mind's Eye Theater. The movie narrator's name is Dawei (David?), 40 years old, who for the past three years conceived and operated this mini movie theater for the blind. The Mind's Eye shows one movie a week; over the course of the theater's lifetime, it has shown over 100 movies to more than 4000 blind moviegoers.

And it gets even better. Maybe somebody in Beijing recognizes this place. If I were there I'd search it out for fun.

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