Exercise: representation of disability


The disabled are usually perceived as weaker than the so-called ‘normal’ characters. They are often represented as outcasts, or people who do not understand/get to know everything going on around them. Disability is very often seen as a tabu subject, and as something to avoid speaking about. This is because the representation of someone disabled is quite often that they are dumber than the average person (thus, we avoid speaking about it to be polite). Disabled characters are also seen as helpless as they need to rely on other people to ‘survive’ in the world they live in.


-A high angle shot is used when filming the disabled person, to represent them as the weaker one whilst others are filmed from a low angle shot or eye level shot, making them look more powerful and in control.

– A 2 shot is used to show his dad is his caretaker; someone he needs and relies on to get by on a daily basis. This is a very good example of the ‘helplessness’ being represented in this clip.


-Subtle blurriness is used to represent the element of romance in the clip.

-The tone and ambient lighting used in the clip also represents this romantic touch, still keeping the disabled person as the weaker individual by connoting that the woman (the romantic influence in the clip) is powerful, that her sexuality is raw and stronger than the disabled one, tying in with the representation of disabled people being weaker than your average/healthy individual would be.

Sound and Music:

-Softspoken, discreet language is used when speaking about the boy’s disability to represent the element of tabu. The dialogue leaves key words out and simply starts the question (eg. “Have you talked about the..?”) and leaves it unfinished, yet finished enough for us to realise what they are referring to. As said, this represents the tabu element, but also the idea of disabled people being slightly dumber/slower.

-A sad score, in minor key, plays throughout to represent the hardships the boy feels because of his disability. This non-diegetic score helps reinforce and represent the disabled boy’s helplessness, making us understand him and his emotional state more.

Mise en Scène:

-The main character is filmed under a pale whitish hue to emphasise his disability/’illness’. Looking closely at the clip, we can see that nobody else is displayed under the same kind of light; everyone else has a warmer hue around them. Not only does this connote to the element of him being different, or an outcast, but also that he is weaker is reinforced here.

-An obvious representation of disability within Mise en Scène is the wheelchair – distinguishing the disabled character right out of the crowd. The wheelchair sums up most of the representations at once; he is different for having a wheelchair, thus an outcast. He needs help to be fully mobile, so he is helpless. The people around him avoid speaking about the wheelchair around him, which shows us it is a tabu subject. Finally, as he is not able to access every area a normal person would be able to access because of his wheelchair/disability, we can safely assume he would not know of everything a so-called normal person would know of.

In conclusion, this clip gives us a pretty standardised representation of disability, with the exception of the element of romance/sexuality. All the four technical areas are used to represent the stereotypes.


One thought on “Exercise: representation of disability

  1. Emma, I couldn’t make this, as no point was made! Your intro doesn’t address the representation in the clip and your conclusion is too general. While you deconstruct, your examples don’t mean anything until you have a point/argument. Try re-doing the intro and then readjust the rest of this piece.

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