Reviews Film

Ways of seeing

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7551.1219 (Published 18 May 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1219
  1. Richard Hurley (rhurley@bmj.com), technical editor
  1. BMJ

    A documentary about going blind offers a powerful study in adaptation

    Hugues de Montalembert was attacked and blinded in 1978, aged 36. The French artist and dedicated traveller describes his new life without sight—in film. Black Sun is a vibrant and moving impressionistic documentary that follows the next 20 years of his life, in an amazing journey around the world. And it's a personal and open portrayal of loss and grief, and an insight into what sight means to a blind person. The ultimate impression, though, is of an artist determined to continue his life as before.

    De Montalembert narrates Black Sun, but his story includes visual narrative too—scenes inspired by those constructed in his brain as it tries to interpret the impaired input. He reasons that the existence of these manmade “visions” proves that sight is created internally, and is not a perception.

    The lens pans soft focus across aerial views from high above New York: a million lights twinkle in the hazy purple dusk. “How many blind people have you met? Where are they?” he calmly asks. The camera zooms in on a crowded avenue, and then the …

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