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Film / One-Eyed Men Are Kings

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One-Eyed Men Are Kings is a 1974 short film co-directed by Michel Leroy and Edmond Sechan, written by Sechan.

The short, which is told without any dialogue, involves a rather sad middle-aged man in Paris. He is generally bullied and pushed around by everybody, including his landlady and his aged mother. The aged mother also makes him walk her dog—even the dog hates him. Walking the dog is an ordeal. People yell at him in the park when the dog hops up on a bench, a lady with a stroller yells at him when he bumps into her, and he can't go into the neighborhood park because dogs aren't allowed.

When the man bumps into a blind man with a service dog and observes the deference the blind man gets, he hits upon an idea. He gets some large sunglasses and pretends to be blind. Suddenly his quality of life is greatly improved, with everyone treating him with deference. He's even allowed into the park, where he makes a bunch of friends. Everything is great, until the dog slips out of his grasp and everything goes wrong.

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Writer and co-director Edmond Sechan directed another Oscar-winning short, The Golden Fish.


Tropes:

  • Blind People Wear Sunglasses: This is exploited by the protagonist, who has normal vision but pretends to be blind by putting on sunglasses.
  • Butt-Monkey: The man is disrespected and yelled at by everyone he meets. He can't even eat at his own dinner table, because if he does, his mom's hell dog barks at him.
  • Call-Back: When the man walks the dog again after he starts pretending to be blind, the events of the walk repeat themselves, except everyone is much much nicer. The first time around, a car driver made the man wipe the dog's pee after it went whizz on his hubcap; the second time around the driver does it himself.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: It's from the old cliche, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
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  • Deliberately Monochrome: The whole movie is shot in sepia tones.
  • Downer Ending: The man is humiliated. He can't bear to enter the park and show his face to his old friends.
  • Miles Gloriosus: When asked in the park how he lost his sight, the man tells a long story that involves fighting in combat and apparently being wounded by a grenade.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Man pretends to be blind, suddenly becomes much more popular.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: The man walks away down the square, unable to face anyone in the park.
  • Silence Is Golden: It's a fully silent film, no dialogue or ambient noise.

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