While living in New York, painter and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert was the victim of a random attack. As he fought for his life, paint remover was thrown in his eyes causing permanent blindness. Gradually, de Montalembert learned to come to terms with his loss of sight and discovered a rare ability to create an internal visual world. He eventually started to travel again - alone - documenting his travels in a series of books. Combining de Montalembert's audio narrative with visuals, the film articulates the immediate and longer-term consequences of the attack as de Montalembert reflects on his perceptions of the world.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Fascinated by the idea of how a film dealing with a painter's loss of sight might be visualised, I approached Black Sun with curiosity. It turns out to be surprising on a couple of counts: one, the images seem to be a combination of random footage in the streets of New York, Paris, London, Indonesia, etc, and some manipulated graphic displays that sometimes suggest what Hugues de Montalembert might 'see' in his mind's eye.
Secondly, the film surprises by its power to communicate, through de Montalembert's rich, textured voice narrating his thoughts and feelings with a likeable French accent. No other voice is heard. He tells his story with candour and without a trace of self pity; on the contrary.
The third surprise is that we never see him; if this is meant to help convey the loss of sight, it's a misguided idea for a film about a single human subject. We yearn to understand him more completely by seeing his face, and being denied this, we are a little frustrated.
All the same, the film has many sublime moments, offers great insight into the human condition and finds a visual vehicle for a story that's not just about sight, but about seeing the world.
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BLACK SUN (PG)
CAST: Documentary with no featured subjects
NARRATION: Hugues de Montalembert
PRODUCER: Gary Tarn
DIRECTOR: Gary Tarn
SCRIPT: Hugues de Montalembert
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gary Tarn (and Luke Eder)
EDITOR: Gary Tarn
MUSIC: Gary Tarn
OTHER: James David Field (Animation Designer)
RUNNING TIME: 70 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Aztec
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 16, 2006