Documentaries are generally meant as a platform to inform viewers on a subject. Carry On: Finding Hope in the Canyon finds a balance between informing about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) and inspiring those with disabilities to achieve their dreams and goals. Even after receiving the diagnosis and being told that there was nothing to be done, Jill Castle sets out to prove the doctors wrong. She gets informed and pushes for the tests and care she wants for her son. Although Anthony suffers from DMD, he kept a positive outlook throughout the film. He is depicted as a happy young boy, who loves adventures and is determined to reach his goals no matter how “crazy” they may seem. Those who volunteered to help make Anothony’s dream a reality describe him as having a “consistent smile and playful attitude.” He was definitely portrayed in a positive light. Instead of focusing on what he couldn’t do, the movie talks about not only what can be done, but how far people are willing to go to help a family in need.
The families journey down the canyon wouldn’t be an easy one and they wouldn’t be able to do it alone. No matter how difficult they knew it was going to be, the tone was never anything less than optimistic. The film highlighted the most important aspects to have in regard to someone with a disability. Those aspects would be quality of life, the importance of having community support, and rather than focusing on finding a fix, the family seems to value living life to the fullest. I was filled with hope, even when Anthony seemed to be slurring his words. Everybody’s determination and strength would get them through it.
The film reminds me of an essay I once read, The Mountain by Eli Clare. Clare, who has cerebral palsy cannot finish a hike with a friend and is faced with the question “Could I not finish because of my physical or mental weakness?” She discusses Michael Oliver who is a disability theorist. He describes a disability as having a mindset based off of society, and an impairment as being psychically limited. While like Clare, Anthony has physical limitations, with the support of his family he can overcome any mental blocks he may have about doing something.
Overall, I loved the hopeful message portrayed and idea of the movie, though not the execution. The documentary is about Anthonys story, yet we don’t hear much from him. I wasn’t sure how much Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy effected verbal skills and if that played a role in it. His appearance was another thing I wasn’t clear on. He was fourteen at the time of the documentary but looked younger to me. If I didn’t already I know his brother was younger, I would’ve assumed he was older. Also, hearing more about Olivers perspective would have been interesting. The sibling point of view isn’t one often explored, even though it effects their life greatly as well.