Black Sun (NC)

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The Independent Culture

One night in 1978, Hugues de Montalembert, a French painter living in New York, was assaulted in his apartment: one of his assailants threw paintstripper in his face; by morning, Montalembert was blind. In Gary Tarn's documentary, Montalembert talks about the world before and after he lost his sight, about the way the mind and the senses adjust to a new reality.

Like Derek Jarman's Blue, Gary Tarn's documentary struggles with the problem of putting blindness on screen. Where Jarman offered a blank blue screen, Tarn goes for complexity: to begin with, blurred, distorted images mimic Montalembert's experience; later, he seems to seek a visual equivalent for moods or ideas. This isn't always successful, at times approaching mawkishness; but overall, it is fascinating.