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Film review
Magical mystery tour
  1. Tom Shakespeare
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tom Shakespeare, disability studies researcher, VIP/DAR, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, Geneva 1211, Switzerland; t.w.shakespeare{at}newcastle.ac.uk

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Lourdes. Directed by Hausner Jessica, Austria, 2009, Artificial Eye, DVD release 2010.
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Watching Lourdes, I am not sure what to think—as a rationalist, as a disability activist or even as a film-goer. My consolation is that I cannot be alone: this is a very subtle and ambiguous film, which demonstrates the power of cinema as well as the skills of Austrian director Jessica Hausner. She formerly worked with Michael Haneke, which gives you a clue about her approach.

The protagonist is Christine, who has MS, which has left her almost completely paralysed. Perhaps it is not even appropriate to call someone a protagonist, if they remain passive for almost the entire story. The film charts her visit to Lourdes as a member of a party led by a lay religious society, the Order of Malta. The members and volunteers from the Order look worryingly like a Franco-era Fascist group, particularly the beret-clad males. Filmed on location, we see the pilgrims, the services, the queueing at the shrine. We are also shown backstage at the …

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