The Miracle Worker

Director: Arthur Penn
Screenwriters: William Gibson

Institute History

  • 1994 Sundance Film Festival


Remarkable as it may seem, Billy the Kid and Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller's teacher in this film, are cut from the same cloth' both are determined to shape the world in their own image, But The Miracle Worker moves in the opposite direction from The Left-Handed Gun—from darkness to light, death to life—for two reasons; Annie's empathy and compassion for her young charge, whom she sees as a younger incarnation of herself, and her tenacious ability to make allies of the Keller family.

The Miracle Worker remains the most emotionally powerful of all Penn's films, due partly to the remarkable performances of Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, who both won Academy Awards, but also because of the way Penn uses the camera to involve us in Annie's and Helen's inner lives so that we share their experiences, Robin Wood has observed that "the real subject of The Miracle Worker is not deafness or blindness, or even teaching or communication, but the life principle itself " Penn reinforces this idea visually by showing us that the film frame cannot contain Helen's energy; she continually breaks out. This gives the film almost a primal power.

Saturday Jan 22 1:20 pm
Holiday Village Cinema II

Monday Jan 24 10:20 am
Holiday Village Cinema II


— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

  • Section: Challenge and Innovation: A Tribute to Arthur Penn
  • Film Type: Dramatic Feature
  • Country: U.S.A.
  • Run Time: 106 min.
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