Movies for the Faceblind

One of the aspects of modern life that is complicated by being faceblind is television.

There’s a rather small part of the brain dedicated to facial recognition (and to recognizing a number of other things, as it turns out). Without it doing that job, the faceblind are left unable to recognize faces.

There are a surprising number of films and television series that rely on facial recognition for plot purposes. Clones? Twins? Time travel? But even the ones that don’t rely on it for the plot are difficult. It really is very necessary to be able to recognize the different characters as they appear throughout the film.

I rely on subtitles and the people around me to help me follow the plot of the film. In day-to-day life, of course, I rely on the dog.

Since, every movie night is Prosopagnosia (Face blind) Movie Night for me…What makes a good selection for Prosopagnosia Movie night? (ie. one that I can watch without asking “who’s that?” too many times)

    There are a few criteria that can make a movie easier to follow.

  • Small Cast
  • Very distinctive characters (especially distinct body language)
  • No laundry (The clothes never change. They should be members of the cast in their own right)
  • Color Coding (Star trek does this quite well)
  • Frequent use of names
  • Subtitles
  • Cartoons/Animals

And these don’t just make it easier for me. Subtitles are helpful for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, or even just people with a lot of background noise. The color-coding that makes my life so easy is also an advantage for anyone with trouble making out the details on the screen.

Of course, much of modern television remains essentially inaccessible. In a world where communication relies increasingly on memes, youtube videos, and images, faceblindness presents a barrier to communication.

But for today at least, I remain simply one more person reluctant to fully adopt modern technology.

2 thoughts on “Movies for the Faceblind”

    1. Movie preferences are pretty subjective, so any list is going to be biased by my genre preferences. That said, The Princess Bride works well, as does Stardust. The 1986 film Labyrinth fits- very small cast, minimal laundry, and relatively few human characters to confuse.

      To avoid (not an exhaustive list): War/Military history films (uniforms are a problem), televised news (probably possible if started precisely on time and watched with intense focus and no interruptions- far easier to read or listen to the radio though)

      Movies of plays can be good, especially with subtitles, but many of the modern ones seem to have a lot of face shots and quick action, which makes them far more difficult.


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