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Silence the Hate Week films: Temple Grandin

Dan Lancellotti
Arts & Culture Editor

Temple Grandin could not speak until she was 4, she was unfocused and struggled in school, she is also autistic. Grandin is now a doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University.
The film “Temple Grandin” shows her struggles through high school, college and her work in the livestock industry. She made innovations in husbandry that are used all across the country.
When Grandin was young, a doctor told her mother that Temple will probably never learn how to speak and he recommended that she be institutionalized. Her mother had no interest in that and hired a speech therapist to work with Grandin. Her mother should be commended for constantly pushing Grandin outside her comfort zone. She went to boarding school and there she met a teacher who took an interest in her and realized her intelligence. Dr. Carlock was her mentor, and explained that each new experience was like stepping through a door. She uses this as motivation to continue pushing past her limits.

Temple Grandin (Claire Danes) is close with cattle as she understands them well.
Temple Grandin (Claire Danes) is close with cattle as she understands them well.

The camera work was purposely shaky and the color changed at times in order to get inside her head. Grandin has such a heightened sense of everything going on around her that it can get overwhelming. In the cafeteria at her college she panics because there is so much going on around her, people chopping vegetables, putting silverware into bins, people talking etc. She tries to run out but has a poor understanding of the sliding doors and runs out screaming.
With her autism people laugh at her and think that she is stupid. At one point in the movie her French professor asks her to read a page out of a textbook. She glances at and says she is done. When the professor asks her what it said she recites it, as she has a photographic memory. When she fixes things, like a fence, she see can see the angles and degrees of the fence so it makes it easier for her.
Little things can set Grandin off, but when she sees the cows being comforted by a machine at her aunt’s ranch, she tries it and it calms her down and make her more sociable. The machine puts pressure on her body and makes it feel like she is getting a hug without the human interaction, as she does not like to be touched. She builds one at college and calls it a “hug box”. The faculty at the school believe that it is a sex machine and get rid of it. Grandin quickly goes to work and does an experiment to prove that most people are relaxed by the machine.
After college she works on different ranches and work out a theory as to why the cows moo a certain way. She discovers that the cattle get excited and nervous and that is why they end up hurting themselves and slowing everything up. She eventually designed a path that keeps the cattle calm and uninjured. She later did the same thing with a slaughterhouse.
The best parts of this movie are when people doubt Grandin. They think she is stupid because she acts strange, so they laugh and ignore her. But when Grandin is sure about something, she is always right. People are different, it’s just the way world is but, but refuse to accept this. Difference can bring new and innovative ideas to the field.
Grandin tells a friend towards the end of the movie, “I know that there are a lot of things that I can’t understand, but I still want my life to have meaning.”