Dame Judi Dench’s failing eyesight stops her from enjoying films

Sam Ashurst
Dame Judi Dench in Victoria & Abdul (Universal Pictures)
Dame Judi Dench in Victoria & Abdul (Universal Pictures)

Dame Judi Dench has revealed she’s no longer able to enjoy trips to the cinema, because her eyesight has deteriorated to the extent she can’t see what’s happening on-screen.

While collecting the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film at the Santa Barbara international film festival on Thursday, Dench told the assembled audience: “Because my eyesight is so bad now, I can’t actually see very much and so I do go but a friend of mine usually has to say: ‘He’s kissing her now’ or ‘He’s walking away.’ So a lot of things I miss – it’s not so much fun.”

The Oscar-winning actor, 82, has macular degeneration, which causes the gradual loss of vision.

Dench is one of the finest actors this country has ever produced, so it’s pretty sad to find out she can no longer completely enjoy the results of her craft.

Still, Dame Judi was able to watch Dunkirk earlier this year, telling Jeff Bridges (who had just promised to vote for her “brilliant” performance in Victoria & Abdul at the Academy Awards next year) that Christopher Nolan’s film deserved recognition.

Dench made the statements while receiving the Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film, which is traditionally awarded to a lifelong contributor to cinema through their work in front of the camera, behind, or both. Jane Fonda, Jessica Lange, Forest Whitaker, Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford have been amongst the winners.

Kirk Douglas, the original award recipient, said of Dench: “I am especially delighted to learn that Dame Judi Dench will accept the award that bears my name. She is a consummate artist of stage and screen who is a particular favorite of mine. I wish I could have had the joy of working with her, but I am happy for the pleasure of seeing my name coupled with hers in support of the Santa Barbara Film Festival.”

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