Going to the movies is one of Matthew Shifrin’s favorite things to do. And on a recent episode of his Blind Guy Travels podcast, he takes us with him.
At a recent screening of the Marx Brothers’ slapstick comedy Duck Soup, Shifrin and his close friend Ben Thompson pick a seat in the theater and quickly introduce themselves to the people seated around them. They’ll be talking softly during the movie, so they like to explain to their neighbors why.
Exceptionally observant and fast-talking, Ben is Matthew’s go-to movie buddy. Although Matthew can’t see the screen, Ben’s live and nuanced (and whispered) descriptions paint a full picture of everything happening in the movie. The two are miked up during the screening, so we get to hear first-hand in the episode what it’s like to experience a movie the way Matthew does.
When Ben can’t tag along, Matthew can still experience movies at theaters that offer descriptive video service headsets. That accessible technology wouldn’t exist, however, without the efforts of people like Bryan Gould, who faced a lot of hurdles getting the service funded, adopted and widely distributed in the 1990s.
During an interview with Matthew, Bryan shares how it took “a lot of letter-writing” and the aid of blindness advocacy organizations before they finally found the right person at the right studio to greenlight a descriptive video project. One of the biggest blockbusters of the decade—and of all time—was among the first to jump onboard. Can you guess the movie from the descriptive audio excerpt?
“Murdoch stares with sweat glistening on his temples. The ship hits the ’berg on its starboard bow.”
Between Bryan’s crash course on the history of descriptive audio (and the role of, you guessed it, Titanic), Ben’s mind-blowing ability to describe a plot as it unfolds, and Matthew’s unabated love for movies, the episode is one you can’t miss.