The Story of a Sign

As featured on Karma Tube, this 5-minute film is called “Historia de un Letrero” or “Story of a Sign” and was winner of the short online film competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.

With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man in this emotionally stirring film by Alonso Alvarez Barreda. The winner of the short film online competition at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, Story of a Sign has since become a regular feature of Mexico’s national television programming.

Some say it was inspired by a Saatchi brothers’ story of when they crossed Central Park and found a blind person. They took his sign and rewrote the copy to say “It is a beautiful day. You can see it. I cannot.” The Saatchi brothers went on to create the world’s biggest advertising agency. Another version of the original inspiration attributes it to French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert who purportedly rewrote a blind man’s sign to say “Spring is coming but I won’t see it.”

There is a more recent Scottish remake of this video which has gone viral on YouTube, with over 20 million views.  It is titled “The Power of Words”:-

What is the underlying message?

I publish this with apologies for the inappropriateness of some aspects of these films. These films are dated, and the portrayal of a blind person reduced to begging may be offensive or disturbing to some. In more enlightened times, we prefer to see disabled people portrayed in a more positive light where their strengths and dignity, not their weakness and helplessness, are highlighted.  However, as little as ten years ago, this was not the case.  And in some part of the world, begging is still very much a reality.  Hopefully, you will be able to see past the inappropriateness of this aspect of the film and you will still be able to enjoy the creative and timeless message about the power of a well-worded message to bring about change.

Be mindful of the impact of wisely chosen words. Choose your words carefully, with precision, and unrelenting positivity when writing for the Web.

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