Most people have picked up some details about the life and work of Helen Keller (1880 -1968) in school or from seeing The Miracle Worker on film or at the theater. This inspiring documentary by Penny Price delves into the spiritual sources of her charisma, joy, and service of others.
Keller wrote seven books and in her autobiography My Religion, she acknowledged the importance of visionary sage and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg in helping her to understand the mercy and love of God, the significance of soul, and the reason we are put on earth to be of use to others through service. Keller faced daunting challenges by being deaf and blind and yet she showed remarkable resilience. This documentary explores her close relationship with Annie Sullivan, the difficult years at Radcliffe College, her love of the natural world and of books, her close relationship with her spiritual mentor John Hintz, her struggle to support herself (including the year she was in vaudeville with Annie), her 44-year affiliation with the American Foundation for the Blind, and her travels around the world giving new hope to those with disabilities.
This one-hour documentary contains archival footage, stills, historical reenactments, and interviews with writer and teacher Jean Houston; Carl Augusto, CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind; Erik Welhenmeyer, the first blind man to climb Mt. Everest; Heather Whitestone, the first deaf Miss America; scholars Roger Shattuck and Kim Nielsen; and Swedenborgian ministers Jonathan Rose and Ray Silverman. One of the best things in Shining Soul is that it reveals Keller's joy in life and the way this spiritual quality impressed all those who came into contact with her. Jean Houston says: "This luminous woman, this person of such intense empathy and interest in everybody and everything, was perhaps the most totally alive human being I have ever met." Her personality moved both the humble and those in places of great power in society including Mark Twain, Martha Graham, American presidents, and foreign heads of state. No wonder Time magazine named her among the 100 most influential people of the twentieth century. Price does a top-notch job conveying Keller's spirituality that made her such an unforgettable person.