List of films featuring the deaf and hard of hearing

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There is a body of films that feature the deaf and hard of hearing. The Encyclopedia of Film Themes, Settings and Series wrote, "The world of the deaf has received little attention in film. Like blindness... it has been misused as a plot gimmick in syrupy romances."[1] Miriam Nathan Lerner, writing in M/C Journal: A Journal of Media and Cultures, said that films featuring deaf and hard of hearing characters rarely focus on deafness itself but rather use it to advance the story or to help understand hearing characters. She said, "Films shape and reflect cultural attitudes and can serve as a potent force in influencing the attitudes and assumptions of those members of the hearing world who have had few, if any, encounters with deaf people." She identified various classifications behind the representation of deafness in film: deafness as a plot device, as a metaphor, as a symbolic commentary on society, or as a psychosomatic response to trauma; deaf characters as protagonist informants or as parallels to the protagonist, et cetera.[2]

The following films have been directed by deaf directors: Deafula (1975), No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie (2013), See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary (2009), Sign Gene (2017), and Think Me Nothing (1975).

List of films[edit]

Film Year Description
After Image 2001 [3]
After the Silence 1996 In the American TV film, a deaf girl (played by hearing actor Kellie Martin) experiences years of abuse and neglect until a hearing social worker intervenes and teaches her sign language.[4][5]
Amy 1981 A hearing woman leaves her hearing and domineering husband after the death of their deaf child. She becomes a teacher at a school for the deaf.[6][1][3]
And Now Tomorrow 1944 [1]
And Your Name Is Jonah 1979 In the American film, a deaf boy, Jonah, is misdiagnosed as being non-verbally autistic. When his deafness is discovered, his parents get him hearing aids to help him learn to hear and speak.[7][1]
Babel 2006 In one of the international film's sub-stories, a deaf Japanese high school girl who knows Japanese Sign Language struggles with her mother's death and engages in sexual behavior with men of different ages.[8][2]
Baby Driver 2017 In the English-language action film, the tinnitus-struck protagonist (played by Ansel Elgort) who works as a getaway driver has a deaf foster father (played by deaf actor CJ Jones).[9]
Bangkok Dangerous 1999 The Thai thriller film, set in Bangkok, stars a deaf hitman who succeeds in his occupation due to unreacting to gunfire.[10][2][3]
Bangkok Dangerous 2008 The American remake of the 1999 Thai film of the same name stars a white American hitman in Bangkok who has a deaf girlfriend.[10]
Beethoven's Great Love 1937 [1]
The Bélier Family (French: La Famille Belier) 2014 In the French film, the hearing daughter of a deaf couple discovers that she has a singing talent.[11][12]
Black 2005 The Hindi film features a deaf-blind student and her alcoholic teacher.[13]
Beyond Silence 1996 The German film features a hearing daughter of deaf parents who seeks independence from her family and meets a fellow child of deaf adult (CODA) and falls in love with him.[14][2][3]
Break Up 1998 [1]
Bridge to Silence 1989 In the American TV film, a deaf woman recovers from a car crash caused by a drunk driver that kills her husband, while her hearing daughter is taken care of by her hearing mother.[15][16][1]
Children of a Lesser God 1985 In the drama film, a speech teacher falls in love with a deaf girl (played by deaf actor Marlee Matlin) at a school for the deaf in New England. The film was Matlin's debut, and she won an Academy Award for her performance.[2][1][3]
Code Unknown 2000 The French- and Romanian-language film features three hearing characters' lives intersecting. One of the characters is a teacher at a school for deaf children, and one of his students is his little sister.[17][2]
Compensation 1999 The film features two love stories set in Chicago–one at the turn of the 20th century and one in contemporary times. Both stories feature a deaf woman and a hearing man, played by Michelle A. Banks and John Earl Jelks, respectively.[18][2]
Country of the Deaf 1998 The Russian film features two women, one who is a deaf dancer and one who is fleeing from the mafia.[19]
Crazy Moon 1987 The Canadian coming-of-age film features a hearing boy (Kiefer Sutherland) who falls in love with a deaf girl (Vanessa Vaughn) and attempts to woo her.[20][2][1][3]
Creed 2015 Estranged son of Apollo Creed, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) falls in love with a musician with a hearing loss (Tessa Thompson) while trying to follow in his late father's footsteps by training with Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) [21][22]
Dead Silence 1997 The American hostage drama, set in upstate New York, features three hearing convicts on the run who hold hostage a bus of deaf students and a deaf teacher (played by deaf actor Marlee Matlin).[23][1]
Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears (also Los Amigos) 1973 The Spaghetti Western film features a deaf gunfighter (played by hearing actor Anthony Quinn) who does not speak or sign; the gunfighters has a hearing partner who acts as his ears.[24][1]
Deafula 1975 The horror film about a Deaf vampire is the first full-length feature film made in American Sign Language.[25][1]
Dear Frankie 2004 The British drama film, directed by Shona Auerbach, features a nine-year-old deaf boy and his hearing mother who are on the run. The boy wants to meet his father, but the mother wants to prevent this since her husband caused the boy's hearing loss at a young age.[26]
Dummy 1979 The CBS television film, based on a book about a 1965 legal case, features a young black deaf man, who does not speak, read or write, being charged for the murder of a prostitute. He is defended by a deaf lawyer who speaks. The accused was played by LeVar Burton, and the lawyer was played by Paul Sorvino; both actors are hearing.[27][1]
The Family Stone 2005 The American comedy film features a New England family who has a deaf son (played by deaf actor Ty Giordano), and the family communicates with him in American Sign Language.[2][28][3]
Flesh and Fury 1952 [1]
For the First Time 1959 [1]
Four Weddings and a Funeral 1994 The British romantic comedy film, directed by Mike Newell and written by Richard Curtis, features a hearing protagonist who has a deaf brother whom he bullies.[2][3]
Gas Food Lodging 1992 The American drama film features a hearing female protagonist who gets a new hearing boyfriend and meets his deaf mother.[2][29][3]
Gigot 1962 [1]
The Good Shepherd 2006 In the American spy film, the hearing protagonist (played by Matt Damon) enters a relationship with a deaf woman (played by hearing actor Tammy Blanchard). Later he leaves her when he impregnates a hearing woman (played by Angelina Jolie) and eventually marries her.[2][30]
Grand Canyon 1991 The American drama film features an ensemble cast, including a hearing father (played by Danny Glover) who maintains a long-distance relationship with his deaf daughter by using a telecommunications device for the deaf.[2][31][3]
The Hammer 2010 The American biographical film features the deaf wrestler Matt Hamill, played by deaf actor Russell Harvard.[7][3]
Hear and Now 2007 The American documentary film, produced by HBO, features the director's deaf parents going through cochlear implant surgery at 65 years old.[32]
Hear No Evil 1993 In the American thriller film, a deaf marathon runner (played by deaf actor Marlee Matlin) discovers a valuable coin and is pursued by hearing criminals.[2][33][1][3]
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter 1968 The American melodrama film, based on the 1940 novel of the same name, features a deaf loner (played by hearing actor Alan Arkin) who, though he does not speak, influences the lives of others in a Southern town.[2][1][3]
Helen Keller in Her Story 1954 The American documentary film features the deafblind figure Helen Keller. The film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 1955.[34]
His Bodyguard 1998 [1]
Hush 2016 The American horror film features a deaf woman (played by hearing actor Kate Siegel) who lives in a rural house and faces down a hearing killer who breaks into her home.[35]
I Don't Want to Talk About It 1993 The film, set in Argentina, features a hearing dwarf who in her childhood befriends a deaf girl.[2]
In the Land of the Deaf 1992 The French documentary film explores Deaf communities in France that use French Sign Language.[36]
Ingelore 2009 The American documentary film, produced by HBO, features the director's mother, a deaf woman who was born to Jewish hearing parents in Germany in 1924 and escapes Nazi Germany.[37]
Island Etude 2006 [3]
It's All Gone Pete Tong 2004 The Canadian independent film is a faux documentary about an Ibiza-based disc jockey (played by hearing actor Paul Kaye) who goes deaf.[38]
Illtown 1998 The American drama film features a hearing couple who deal drugs and who take in the man's deaf brother who has run away from home.[2][39][3]
Immortal Beloved 1994 The biographical film features composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven, who loses his hearing over time. Beethoven is played by hearing actor Gary Oldman.[40]
In the Company of Men 1997 The black comedy film, featuring spoken English and American Sign Language, follows two hearing male white-collar workers (played by Aaron Eckhart and Matt Malloy) who target a deaf co-worker (played by hearing actor Stacy Edwards) to form romantic relationships with her and to hurt her by breaking up with her.[2][41][3]
Iqbal 2005 [3]
It's a Wonderful Life 1947 The American comedy-drama film features a protagonist who is deaf in one ear and who is played by hearing actor James Stewart. When he hugs a woman, he does not hear her expressing her love.[2][42]
It's My Party 1996 [3]
Jerry Maguire 1996 The American comedy-drama film features a hearing sports agent (played by Tom Cruise) who with his hearing date (played by Renée Zellweger) encounter in the elevator a deaf couple, one who signs to the other, "You complete me." The agent later signs the same thing to his love.[2][43]
Johnny Belinda 1948 The American drama film, based on a stage play by Elmer Harris, stars the deaf woman Belinda, played by hearing actor Jane Wyman. Belinda lives on a farm in Nova Scotia and is unable to communicate with others until a recently arrived hearing doctor teaches her sign language. When she goes to a village dance, however, she is cornered by a local hearing man and is raped.[2][44][1][3]
Johnny Belinda 1967 The American TV Movie, based on a stage play by Elmer Harris, stars the deaf woman Belinda, played by hearing actor Mia Farrow. Belinda lives on a farm in Nova Scotia and is unable to communicate with others until a recently arrived hearing doctor teaches her sign language. When she goes to a village dance, however, she is cornered by a local hearing man and is raped.[2][44][1][3]
Khamoshi: The Musical 1996 An Indian musical drama film which is the story about Joseph (Nana Patekar) and Flavy Braganza (Seema Biswas), a deaf couple in Goa.[3]
Knowing 2009 The science fiction thriller film stars Nicolas Cage as a hearing father who faces an apocalyptic world and rescues his hearing daughter and deaf son.[2][45]
Koshish 1972 Koshish is considered a landmark movie in the history of Indian cinema. It stars Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri. The movie depicts a deaf couple and their conflicts, pain and struggle to carve out a niche for themselves in a desensitized society.[citation needed]
Kung Fu Hustle 2004 The Cantonese-language martial arts comedy film, produced by China and Hong Kong, features a deaf girl as one of several social underdogs, one who gets the protagonist to change sides.[2][46]
Lake Windfall 2013 The American independent film features five friends, three deaf, who go on a camping trip that becomes a disaster.[47]
Land of Silence and Darkness 1971 The German documentary film, directed by Werner Herzog, features deafblind people and how they live and how they perceive life.[48]
Language Says It All 1987 The American short documentary film focuses on deaf children and their communication potential.[49]
The Linguini Incident 1991 [3]
A Lot like Love 2005 The American romantic comedy film stars Ashton Kutcher as a hearing man who develops a relationship with a hearing woman over seven years; he is shown to have a deaf brother (played by deaf actor Ty Giordano).[50]
Looking for Mr. Goodbar 1977 The American drama film features a hearing teacher who teaches deaf children and who goes clubbing in her free time.[2][51][3]
Love Is Never Silent 1985 The American TV film, set from 1931 through 1945, stars a young hearing woman (played by Mare Winningham) and her deaf parents (played by deaf actors Phyllis Frelich and Ed Waterstreet), who use sign language with each other. The woman grows up learning how to balance her own needs with her parents'.[7][16][52][1]
Man of a Thousand Faces 1957 The American film dramatizes the life of silent film actor Lon Chaney, whose pantomime artistry was based, in part, on growing up with two deaf parents who communicate by signing. In a subplot, Chaney's wife has a negative attitude toward her deaf in-laws and fears their child also will be deaf.[1][3]
The Man Who Played God 1932 [1]
Mandy (also Crash of Silence) 1952 The British drama film features the deaf girl Mandy (played by hearing actor Mandy Miller) whose hearing mother decides to send to a school for the deaf, causing challenges in the family.[4][53][1]
Marianna Ucrìa 1997 The Italian drama film features a deaf girl in 18th-century Sicily who is forced to married an old duke. As she gets older, a French tutor teaches her sign language, which she uses to gain independence and to discover a dark truth from her childhood.[54]
Marie's Story 2014 The French biographical film is based on the true story of Marie Heurtin, a girl who was born deaf and blind in late 19th-century France. Played by deaf actor Ariana Rivoire, Marie learns from a nun how to read Braille and communicate in sign language.[55]
Medeas 2013 The drama film, set in Southern California, features a hearing man and a deaf woman (played by hearing actor Catalina Sandino Moreno) and their five children who live on a cattle farm and suffer a drought.[56]
Miracle on 34th Street 1994 In the American Christmas film, a scene features a deaf signing girl (played by a deaf actor) who sits on Kris Kringle's lap at a department store and is surprised to learn that he knows sign language and communicates with him.[2][57]
The Miracle Worker 1962 The film features the deafblind Helen Keller (played by hearing actor Patty Duke) and her teacher Anne Sullivan.[1][3]
The Miracle Worker 1979 The film features the deafblind Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan.[1]
The Miracle Worker 2000 The film features the deafblind Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan.
Misjudged People 1932 The German documentary film features the German deaf community at the time of production. It was produced by the Reich Union of the Deaf of Germany to give the German public a positive perception of the capabilities of deaf people. It was banned by the Nazis in 1934 to avoid promoting that perception.[58]
Mom and Dad Can't Hear Me 1978 The American TV film, part of the anthology series ABC Afterschool Special, features a 14-year-old girl who moves to a new town with her deaf parents. She is ashamed of their deafness and lies to her classmates so they do not know about or meet her parents.[16][59]
Mr. Holland's Opus 1996 The American drama film features a hearing high school music teacher who aspires to compose music. He and his hearing wife have a deaf son, who the teacher finds hard to accept due to the impossibility of his son hearing his intended composition. The teacher grows to accept his son as well as his own life.[7][60][1][3]
Murder by Death 1976 The American parody murder mystery film features a dinner party with an ensemble cast, including a deaf cook who does not speak or read (played by hearing actor Nancy Walker).[2][61][3]
Music Within 2007 [3]
My Father Die 2017 [62]
Nashville 1975 The American comedy-drama film about people in the country and gospel music businesses features an ensemble cast including a hearing gospel singer who is the mother to two deaf children.[2][63][3]
No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie 2013 The American independent comedy-drama film features a Deaf actor who plays a superhero on a TV show. He meets a Deaf boy and works to inspire him.[64]
No Road Back 1957 [1]
No Way Out 1950 [3]
Orphan 2009 A psychological horror movie that features a family who adopts a young girl. The family already have two children, a son who's hearing, and a daughter who's deaf.[3]
The Parts You Lose TBD The thriller film features a fugitive criminal who hides on a family farm in the U.S. state of North Dakota and befriends a deaf boy.[65]
The Perfect Circle 1997 The Bosnian war drama film features a hearing poet who helps two boys, one hearing and one deaf, during the Siege of Sarajevo.[2][66][3]
Pocketful of Miracles 1961 [3]
Psych-Out 1968 In the American counterculture film, 17-year-old deaf runaway Jenny (played by hearing actor Susan Strasberg) travels to San Francisco to find her brother. She is pursued by authorities, and she befriends members of a psychedelic bands and becomes involved in the city's hippie scene before ultimately finding her brother.[2][67][1][3]
The Quiet 2005 The American thriller film features a deaf teenage girl (played by hearing actor Camilla Belle), deaf since seven years old and not having spoken since, who becomes orphaned and moves in with her hearing godparents. She is bullied by the godparents' hearing daughter, but the two find common ground.[2][68]
A Quiet Place 2018 The horror film features a deaf girl (played by Deaf actor Millicent Simmonds) and her hearing family who have to stay quiet on a remote farm to avoid making sound that would attract dark forces.[69]
Read My Lips 2001 The French thriller film features a female hard-of-hearing office worker who wants to help a hearing ex-convict who refuses to accept her help.[2][70]
Requiem for a Dream 2000 In the American psychological film, one of the hearing protagonists encounters a deaf drug dealer who uses speaks and uses sign language.[2][71][3]
Ridicule 1996 The French drama film, set in the late 18th century, features hearing aristocrats who attempt to humiliate each other. In one scene, a group of deaf people are mocked by the aristocrats, but the group winds up having the last laugh.[2][72][3]
The River Wild 1995 The American thriller film features a family on a rafting trip who have to face a pair of armed killers. The mother of the family, Gail, is a teacher of deaf students, so she knows sign language and uses it to communicate surreptitiously.[2][73][1][3]
See No Evil, Hear No Evil 1989 The American comedy film features a blind man and a deaf man (played by hearing actor Gene Wilder) to stop three murderous thieves.[2][16][1][3]
See What I Say 1981 The American short documentary film features deaf women who discuss their use of sign language.
See What I'm Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary 2009 The American documentary film explores the careers of four deaf entertainers: standup comic CJ Jones, actor Robert DeMayo whose HIV-positive status impacts him, drummer Bob Hiltermann of the all-deaf band Beethoven's Nightmare, and singer and actress TL Forsberg.[74]
The Shop on Main Street 1965 The Czechoslovak drama film set in the Slovak State during World War II features a shop owned by a mostly deaf elderly Jewish woman. Her friends pay a carpenter to be her co-worker so she is not deported to a concentration camp.[2][75]
Sicario: Day of the Soldado 2018 The crime film features one of the main (hearing) characters interacting with a deaf man in Mexican Sign Language; the film reveals that the main character had a deaf daughter, which is how he knew LSM.[76]
Sierra Burgess Is a Loser 2018 The American comedy film features the hearing teenage girl pretending to be deaf when meeting a hearing love interest in person, but the love interest recognizes her sign language because his brother is deaf (and played by deaf actor Cochise Zornoza).[77]
Sign Gene 2017 The Italian and American superhero film features Deaf superheroes that can create superhuman powers through the use of Sign language. The story centres on a Deaf agent from New York City (played by deaf actor Emilio Insolera) carrier of a powerful genetic mutation sent to Japan with his colleague to investigate the various intriguing crimes committed by Japanese Deaf mutants.[78]
The Silence 2018 The American horror film, based on a book by Tim Lebbon, features a deaf girl (played by hearing actor Kiernan Shipka) in a world of monsters.[79]
The Silent Child 2017 A four year old profoundly deaf girl is silent until she is taught sign language by a social worker. Won the Live Action Short Film category at the 90th Academy Awards.[80]
Silent Victory: The Kitty O'Neil Story 1979 [1]
A Silent Voice 2016 The Japanese anime film features a young hearing man who tracks down a deaf signing woman who he had bullied in elementary school and tries to make amends with her.[81]
Sincerely Yours 1955 [1]
Speakeasy 2002 [3]
Sound and Fury 2000 The American documentary film features two brothers, one deaf and one hearing, with their families. The deaf brother has a deaf wife and a deaf daughter. While he opposes cochlear implants, his daughter wants one. The hearing brother has a hearing wife, and the couple have a deaf baby for whom they explore the option of cochlear implants. The film explores the relationship between the culturally deaf community and cochlear implants.[7][82]
A Star Is Born 2018 The American romantic drama film about two musicians in love features one of them having noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus.[83]
Stille Liebe 2001 The Swiss film features a signing deaf nun who travels from her German convent to the city to work at a center for the homeless. She meets a signing deaf man and falls in love with him. The man, who turns out to be a pickpocket, is killed by the police. The nun resolves to move to the United States to become an actor.[2][84][3]
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell 1939 [1]
The Story of Esther Costello 1957 [3]
Suspect 1987 The American courtroom film features a hearing public defender (played by Cher) who is assigned to defend a deaf bum (played by hearing actor Liam Neeson) who is arrested for the murder of a Washington legal secretary.[2][85][3]
Sweet Nothing in My Ear 2008 The American television film, part of the anthology program Hallmark Hall of Fame, features a couple, a hearing man and a deaf woman (played by deaf actor Marlee Matlin), who have an eight-year-old son who is gradually losing his hearing. While the mother assumes the family will use sign language, a doctor who sees the son recommends for the father to look into cochlear implants. The parents begin fighting with each other about raising their son, and it leads to a court battle for custody.[86]
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance 2002 The South Korean thriller film features a deaf man working in a factory who then becomes involved with illegal organ transplantation, kidnapping, and murder.[2][87][3]
Take Shelter 2011 The American psychological drama film features a Midwestern family man who has apocalyptic visions and starts building a storm shelter for his family. His daughter is deaf, and he and his wife desperately try to get a cochlear implant for her.[88]
There Will Be Blood 2007 The American historical drama film features a hearing oilman (played by Daniel Day-Lewis) who has a son who loses his hearing as a result of a gas blowout. The oilman sends his son to a school for the deaf. Later in the film, he sees his adult son (played by deaf actor Russell Harvard) who now knows sign language and marries a woman who also knows sign language.[2]
Think Me Nothing 1975 ref.
Tin Man 1983 The American drama film features a deaf auto mechanic (played by hearing actor Timothy Bottoms) who invents a computer that allows him to hear and speak. He tries to get his invention produced, but he is undermined by a salesman.[89]
To Live (also Lifelines) 1994 The Chinese drama film features a Chinese couple who have a son and daughter. The daughter loses her hearing as a result of an illness.[2][90][3]
Touch the Sound 2004 The German documentary film is about profoundly deaf Scottish classical percussionist Evelyn Glennie.[91]
The Tribe 2014 The Ukrainian drama film features teenage gangsters at a school for the deaf. Ukrainian Sign Language is shown between the characters, but no voiceover or subtitles are used to translate.[92]
Through Deaf Eyes 2007 The American documentary, produced by PBS, explores the lives of Deaf people in the United States in the past 200 years.[7]
Universal Signs 2008 The American drama film features a deaf artist who blames himself for the death of his fiancée's daughter and struggles to recover.[93]
Voices 1979 [1]
Walker 1987 [3]
Wedding of Silence 2004 The Russian documentary film features in black-and-white a wedding in the Deaf community in Saint Petersburg.[94]
What the Bleep Do We Know!? 2004 The American film is a mixture of narrative, documentary, and animation and explores quantum mysticism. The film features Marlee Matlin as the deaf photographer who explores the spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness.[2]
Where the Truth Lies (a.k.a. Ninety Days at Hollyridge) 1999 [1]
Wonderstruck 2017 The American drama film, directed by Todd Haynes and based on the juvenile fiction novel of the same name, features two children in separate time periods (1927 and 1977) whose storylines interweave. One child is deaf and played by deaf actor Millicent Simmonds, and the other is partly deaf and played by hearing actor Oakes Fegley.[95]
Wild Prairie Rose 2016 The American drama film, directed by Deborah Lavine. In 1952 Rose Miller returns to her rural hometown of Beresford, South Dakota to care for her ailing mother. Once there, she falls in love with a deaf man (played by deaf actor Troy Kotsur) and must decide if she has the courage to follow her heart.[96]
You'd Be Surprised 1926 ref.

See also[edit]

These films feature characters who pretend to be deaf or hard of hearing:

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), an American comedy-drama film based on the 1962 novel of the same name which is set in a mental institution and features a Native American side character who is believed to be deaf and not speaking until revealed otherwise.[2]
  • What the Deaf Man Heard (1997), an American television film set in the U.S. state of Georgia in 1945 in which the hearing protagonist lives in a town for 20 years pretending to be deaf[97]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar Lerner, Miriam Nathan (2010). "Narrative Function of Deafness and Deaf Characters in Film". M/C Journal. 13 (3).
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External links[edit]