The Golden Legacy
by Richard L. Cohen, M.S.
Nationally Certified Deaf Interpreter
American Sign Language Instructor
The Golden Legacy
Written, produced & directed by Arthur Luhn
EYETHFILMS Production (www.eyethfilms.com)
VHS 1hr 52min, ASL, no audio, some spoken English subtitles
General Interest for Deaf People: A+
Recommended for public libraries. Of most interest to Deaf people of all ages
and students of sign language and Deaf culture.
Watching "The Golden Legacy" gave my Deaf wife and me goose bumps. It was the first time both of us have seen a full-length movie of excellent video quality that had a totally Deaf perspective. This is basically a comedy-drama-action film made for the entire family ... correction, for the entire Deaf family. The story is a simple one of trying to find hidden gold while avoiding different groups of villains, resulting in a comedy of chase scenes. The storyline, while indeed entertaining, was not the video's main attraction for us.
Further, the video might not have the same special effects as regular theater movies, but it didn't matter, as we still found it just as enjoyable, if not more so. You see, 100% of our time was spent appreciating the scenery and watching the characters, catching all the nuances of their body language and facial expressions. It was such a relief from the usual movies, which require us to repeatedly glance back and forth between the captions and the action.
Oh, there were some subtitles, but these served the same function that is present in regular films; i.e., showing what speakers of foreign languages say. Whenever spoken English is used, which is not very often, it's subtitled. If the videotape jacket didn't mention "no audio," we wouldn't have known.
The film is loaded with Deaf culture. We relished the many tidbits that only Deaf people or students of Deaf culture would notice. For example, the main villain's name is Alex Bell, and there is a shipyard salvage outfit called C.I. Salvage. My wife got into the spirit and noticed that one of the backpacks in the video is from Deaf Way II.
As was mentioned in the beginning, the quality of the video is superb, with great shots of the Boston scenery. The only negative is that the text portions are sometimes difficult to read clearly - especially at the end when text appears stating what became of the characters - but this is a relatively minor shortcoming. The text difficulties may have been due to the digital transfer to VHS format; hopefully this problem will be solved in future videos.
For the record, there does not appear to be any stereotyping of ASL. Some characters use pure ASL, while others appear to be signing in English order, clearly enunciating the English words. This is indeed true in the real world, but we got a big chuckle out of the fantasy that almost everyone the characters came across knew ASL.
The videotape jacket describes the film as "Fast, fun and upbeat ... guaranteed entertainment." For a change, that is truth in advertising.