This trailer is a preview for a planned feature-length documentary on the life of Helen Keller and her work with the American Foundation for the Blind. Keller was in the public eye for over 80 years, and her achievements radically transformed society’s views toward people with disabilities, yet many today are unaware of the influential role she played in driving social and political change around the globe. Using the wealth of materials in the digital Helen Keller Archive, the film will be a joyous and insightful exploration of her activism and career.
Note: Audio description is provided by default in this trailer, but will be a separate, optional track in the final documentary.
Transcript, Including Audio Description
Euphoric music plays.
On screen: Words appear over black:
Text on screen: A Daring Adventure. Helen Keller – In Her Own Words.
Helen Keller's remarkable journey from her childhood struggle to communicate with others to the fierce advocate and global citizen she became is a timeless story for a new generation. For most, Helen's story ends with the image of her as a young deafblind girl and her teacher at a water pump. But this is where Helen's story really begins...
On screen: In a scene from 1962's "The Miracle Worker," young Helen rapidly pumps water, the pump exerting an audible clanking sound.
Helen's words, read by a narrator: I knew then that "W-A-T-E-R" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand.
On screen: Close-up of Anne Sullivan:
Anne, played by Anne Bancroft: Oh my dear!
Helen's words continue: That living word awakened my soul. I had now the key to all language.
Mysterious music plays.
On screen: A 1900 headline: "Helen Keller enters Radcliffe College."
Helen: And I was eager to use it.
On screen: Helen types on a Braille writer.
Helen: I for one love strength…
On screen: Helen plays chess.
On screen: She sits in a tree with Annie and a dog.
On screen: A hand-written note: To Radcliffe College, my Alma Mater, whose hand is in my life blessing it."
Helen: Henceforth I am resolved to be myself…
On screen: She rows a boat. Next, she christens a ship.
Helen: ...to live my own life…
On screen: She smiles as she marches in a parade. Next, she rides a horse.
Helen:...and write my own thoughts.
On screen: A book title: "The Story of My Life, 1904." Helen uses a braille writer. Then, several articles penned by Helen appear, titled: My Future as I See It; The Correct Training of a Blind Child; The Hand of the World; Into the Light; Unnecessary Blindness; and A Chat About the Hand. Next, Helen's maturing fingers touch a braille page, a flower…
Helen: Every object is associated in my mind with tactile qualities which gives me a sense of power…
On screen: The hands of a clock...
Helen: ...of beauty…
On screen: A musician's violin.
Helen: ...or of incongruity.
On screen: A sculpture of an oversized face; a little girl's chin and crystals dangling from a candelabra.
Inspiring violin music plays.
On screen: A headline: "$5,000 response to Helen Keller's Plea For Blind."
Helen: It is in my nature to fight when I see wrongs to be made right.
On screen: Helen gently rests her hand over a man's hand as he finger spells.
Helen: So long as I confine my activities to social service and to the blind, they compliment me extravagantly. But when it comes to a discussion of a burning social or political issue, especially if I happen to be on the unpopular side, the tone changes completely.
On screen: A 1956 FBI document associates Keller a "The Daily Worker," with "Un-American Activities."
Helen: We have prayed, we have coaxed, we have begged, for the vote, with the hope that men, out of chivalry, would bestow equal rights upon women and take them into partnership in the affairs of the state. We shall beg no more!
Ominous droning music plays over static.
On screen: Indistinguishable chatter drones on. Tulsa, 1921. A street full of burned out buildings. A headline: "Dead estimated at 100."
Helen: This great republic is a mockery when citizens are denied the rights which the Constitution guarantees them.
On screen: A headline: "Nation Shocked, Vow Action in Lynching." Mamie Till, weeping.
Helen: The United States stands ashamed before the world whilst millions of its people remain victims of a most blind, stupid, inhuman prejudice.
On screen: Hooded Klansmen burn a cross. Next, thousands chatter as they march in Washington. Berlin, 1933: men toss books into a bonfire. A headline: "Helen Keller, Jack London Books Burned."
Intense music plays.
Helen: History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas.
On screen: 1933. Nazis heavily march with torches. In contemporary footage, white men chant while they march with tiki torches.
Helen: The only lightless dark is the night of ignorance and insensibility.
On screen: A fist fight breaks out with counter-protesters as the crowd yells in the background. Then, mushroom cloud explodes as it rises and expands. Then in Japan, 1948. Hundreds of Japanese cheer, applaud, and wave their national flag as Helen waves from a convertible. Helen visits the atomic Bomb Center.
Helen: Peace will come only when we realize that we live for each other and by each other and not unto ourselves.
On screen: She holds hands with young Japanese admirers through a train window as audio plays of them laughing and chatting. India, 1955. She meets with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
Whimsical music plays.
Helen: It has been said that life has treated me harshly…
On screen: She visits children in South Africa; she tours Tel Aviv.
Helen: ...and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me.
On screen: Helen lays her hand along a singer's mouth. She feels the air over timpani drums. Dancers touch her fingertips as they circle around her. She waltzes. She visits Charlie Chaplin. She rides in the open cockpit of a biplane. She touches an Academy Award statuette. She leans out the window of an Army train.
Helen: But when I recollect the treasure of friendship that has been bestowed upon me…
On screen: A young girl gives Helen a hug.
Helen: ...I withdraw all charges against life.
On screen: She meets with presidents. A newspaper announces her Medal of Freedom.
Helen: True happiness is not attained through self-gratification...but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
Whimsical music continues.
On screen: In a portrait, an elderly Helen with pale blue eyes softly smiles. Then words appear over black:
Text on screen: As part of our centennial celebration in 2021, the American Foundation for the Blind is creating a full-length documentary film, to be streamed on television networks, about Helen Keller, a modern woman for our time. A powerful story of a partnership between an exceptional woman and a visionary organization. Helen's advocacy resonates as loudly today as when she was alive. Please help us make this film and our centennial year a smashing success. To donate go to afb.org.
Logo: AFB 100. Inclusion Knows No Limits.