De-institutionalization and Cripping in Breathe, Directed by Andy Serkis

A white man in an old-fashioned wheelchair is outside, abled people surround him, smiling

Guest blogger: Aimee Louw is a freelance journalist, writer, consultant, filmmaker, and radio host living in Canada. Her blog centers on accessibility, crip life, sex, and media.

Based on a true story, Breathe covers the adult life of Robin Cavendish, a man who contracted polio in post-World War II England, when requiring a ventilator to breathe meant across the board institutional living and immobility. The story follows Cavendish’s journey from active and horny young man, to newly-disabled, depressed institutionalized patient, to disability advocate/ innovator. There is a large focus on the triumph of love prevailing over despair with his wife, Diana. As the trailers began, I popped some painkillers, and I settled in with my non-institutionalized boyfriend, J.

The film opens in an idyllic English countryside, with voracious young men playing cricket. The main character, played by Andrew Garfield, ogles with other young men at a pretty lady, Diana, played by Claire Foy. The swells of orchestral music that accompany the displays of Robin’s physical prowess forebode trouble looming for this strapping young man. … Read more…