Love is complex, indiscriminate, boundless, and existent among all individuals, regardless of their social position or physical composition. The movie Children of a Lesser God is a testament to this fact. A teacher named James Leeds (played by William Hurt) falls in love with Sarah Norman (played by Marlee Matlin), who is deaf and refuses to accept the “disabled” label that society has given her.
The love story is deceptively simple. Its core romantic energy captures the tenderness and intricacies of a love affair. To see declarations of love using hand signs mixed with words is breathtaking. It is among the most romantic ways of drawing the deaf into the world of hearing.
In my favorite scene, Hurt is attempting to sign that he loves Marlee while she is swimming, but unexpectedly she temporarily rejects him. In a brilliant twist he purposely falls into the pool as a metaphor for falling in love. He begins to understand the world of his deaf girlfriend, a world without sound but filled with amazement, curious expressions, and delight of the senses, such as their kiss in the water.
Such romantic scenes are an illustration showing that love is boundless and can sweep anyone off their feet. People in the Deaf Community are fully capable of loving and being loved, and accommodating people from the sound-filled world.
It is not that the deaf are lonely, or incapable of romance, or exist in isolated, soundless cocoons, but it turns out that few people are capable of making bold moves to explore their amazing world and appreciate it from their perspective. The movie is a reminder that the world of deaf is full of expression and love that is certainly not hindered by silence.