A workmanlike version of the classic play designed to introduce Helen Keller's inspirational story to a new generation resistant to B&W movies. Even the dramatic shadings are in Technicolor in this smooth remake that captures some of the original's heart but little of its soul. Deaf and blind from infancy, young Helen Keller (Hallie Kate Eisenberg) rules the household like a pint-sized tyrant. Her parents, Captain Keller (David Strathain) and his wife (Kate Greenhouse), are wealthy enough to indulge their wild child, but her behavior estranges the Captain from his son from a previous marriage and endangers the safety of their newborn. Into this maelstrom comes neophyte governess Annie Sullivan (Alison Elliott), who's spent her entire life in state institutions. Guilt-ridden about having been unable to protect her younger brother, Annie is passionate about educating the handicapped and has overcome hardship and her own poor eyesight. Although Annie wants to teach Helen the meaning of language, the Kellers are grateful just to have her sufficiently calm to eat at a table with the rest of the family. Having won the battle of table manners, Annie extracts a promise from the Captain: He will give her one week in the family guest house with Helen, sans interference. Upon Helen's return to the main house, her family undoes Annie's progress by spoiling Helen once more. But Annie refuses to leave Helen in the dark and resolves to rescue her from her parents' misguided pity. In a climactic contest of wills, Annie forces Helen to understand that each gesture in sign language corresponds to a person, place, thing or feeling. A whole new world opens up to the previously isolated child. Adequately acted by Elliott and Eisenberg (who first attracted attention in a series of Pepsi commercials), this road-show production of the classic play lacks the fierceness of Arthur Penn's 1962 film, in which Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke inhabited their roles with burning intensity.
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- Released: 2000
- Rating: NR
- Review: A workmanlike version of the classic play designed to introduce Helen Keller's inspirational story to a new generation resistant to B&W movies. Even the dramatic shadings are in Technicolor in this smooth remake that captures some of the original's heart b… (more)