Saturday, 23 July 2016

notes on blindness (w&d pete middleton, james spinney)

What does a blind person see? How can this be represented? Middleton and Spinney’s film, based on the writings of its narrator, John Hull, embraces the paradox. The film’s premise is a blind man seeking to communicate to the sighted what it means to be blind, for better and for worse. Logic would perhaps suggest a darkened screen, certainly from the moment when Hull loses his sight altogether. A complete absence of light. The film resists this logic. Alongside the anchor of Hull’s voice, the star of the show is DOP, Gerry Floyd, whose ephemeral, half-formed pictures help us to engage with the process of not being able to see, whilst never giving us nothing to look at. The sound mix by Joakim Sundstrom is similarly skilful in its execution. Notes on Blindness is narrated by the author from beyond the grave, his recorded voice playing over images of Dan Skinner re-enacting moments of his life with a sense of profound conviction. The voice is our latchkey and our guide into this other world, and the way the sound mix is assembled from Hull’s voice, music and the everyday sounds which give the blind world texture, is a small paean to the things that cinema can achieve. All of which goes into the construction of a bold, sensory documentary which feels more like a drama. Notes on Blindness is about living with disability, but it’s also a story about the power of faith and love; how they help us to overcome the struggle of confronting the void which shadows us all. 

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