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In Stay, you witness the story of Henry Letham as he deals with his survivor guilt in his mind. One representation of this world, however, has baffled me recently.

In his dream-like world, it is populated with a bunch of characters from around the accident site and his past, including his parents and fiance'. However, his father is portrayed in this world as a friend of Dr. Foster, who is blind.

http://www.wearysloth.com/Gallery/ActorsH/8229-27051.gif

In real life however, it is heavily implied that his father can see perfectly fine throughout all his life.

What is this piece of symbolism trying to portray within this movie? Is there some metaphor of a blind father that I'm missing or does it somehow tie back into some of the Hamlet references that are strewn throughout the movie that I overlooked?

Also, what is this symbolic meaning of when Henry was able to 'cure' his "father's" blindness towards the end of the movie (assuming there is one as well)?

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3 Answers 3

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From reviewer Emanuel Levy:

Henry's quest to be saved brings him into contact with a blind psychiatrist, Dr. Leon Patterson (Bob Hoskins), who is either Sam's mentor or Henry's deceased father–depending on your perception. The scene in which Leon regains his sight with Henry's help is played as a metaphor and reality, tapping into the roots of father-son relationships, suggesting the ways children wish their parent can see them for whom they really are. Like every element in the film, Leon's blindness is part of a symbolic structure but also part of reality.

If you take this as a film about how the mind deals with its dying moments, and the way it might attempt to make sense of what is happening in the way our dreams do, melding in the current reality (people and comments from the accident scene), then every character in the story becomes a symbolic version of the self. So maybe the fatherly, perhaps judgmental side of himself was blind, then begins to see.

Director Marc Forster has admitted, though, in interviews that the movie has plot holes:

Speaking objectively, narratively speaking, there are definitely things that do not work in Stay, and don’t tie together. That was more for me; it was like a painting and going through an experience of images. Narratively speaking, it definitely has holes. If you look at the film rationally you can point at the holes and say, “This and that are ridiculous.” For me, I didn’t really care if anyone didn’t like the movie, because I really like the movie.

Alongside another interview, done at the time of the release, there is a photo of the blind psychiatrist/father with a caption: I’m confused!

So many Hollywood movies are explained from start to finish. I think it's important to ask questions and to be left in the unknown, because I think you get more out of it... Stay should be taken as a visual experience...

The actors and I tried to discuss [what was going on] in the beginning, but we soon noticed that everybody needs to come up with his own logic. As a director I then had to direct them intuitively. Someone might think now that if a movie is not set in the real world, you can do whatever you want. But it's not like this. It's much more difficult. It was one of the most difficult films to shoot for me in that sense. But like this you start feeling a little like Ewan McGregor's character, who tries to analyze the situation rationally but the situation then gets more and more out of hand. Bob Hoskins told me that he didn't understand the story even after reading the script twice or three times. When I asked him why he still wanted to make the movie with me, he said, that's exactly want interests him: to find the character while making the film.

So no definitive answer, but some clues...

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Tristan Reveur the artist who was talked about so much in the films father was blind and a chess player. This is the reason for the father being blind and also for the chess playing.

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For me, the transition from blindness to sight for the Bob Hoskins character personified Henry's "finally seeing" that he is dying/dead and must move on... just as the Bob Hoskins character gains his sight and then walks off into the fading-out train tracks. What an amazing film! Too bad that such gems of magnificence go so unnoticed by the masses. How sad. To each their own, yes, but I consider it a gift to be presented with such a thought-provoking experience that inspires us to share our perspectives.

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