IndiePix // 2005 // 70 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // April 16th, 2009
"The sense of life is life, and once you have understood that, you can relax." -- Hugues de Montalembert
Gary Tarn's documentary Black Sun is a riveting, artistic experience you don't get to see every day. Narrated by Hugues de Montalembert, a French filmmaker and painter whose life took a drastic turn when he lost his sight after a brutal attack in his New York apartment in 1978, the film is both a powerful visual experiment and a thought-provoking reflection on life and humanity. In other words, this is a must-see.
The power of words clearly dominates the power of images in this clever documentary, which offers viewers a compelling insight into de Montalembert's life as a blind man. Starting off with a detailed account of the attack that robbed him of his eyesight, de Montalembert then moves on to explain exactly what went through his head and how he dealt with his disability during the following months.
Whether he explains us how his brain continued to produce images even though he could no longer see, how hard he worked to regain his independence and prepare for his new life after his stay at the hospital, or how he decided to travel the world alone, de Montalembert's story is one of passionate determination and incredible courage. His is an honest, uplifting account and profoundly philosophical examination of life as a man bound to darkness, and it's absolutely intriguing to listen to what he has to say.
Interestingly, we never get to see de Montalembert on the screen, and the decision to leave him out of the frame was intentional, of course. Instead, Tarn chose to include a vast collection of colorful images and random shots of people, nature, streets, and a bunch of other things, some of which go with something de Montalembert is saying while others don't. It's an interesting visual style for a documentary, and while it can seem a tad monotonous at times, it didn't really bother me much. What really matters is de Montalembert's narration, and his words are clearly more absorbing than the film's visuals.
The disc's technical aspects work just fine, with the clean 1.66:1 anamorphic presentation delivering a sharp image with strong colors throughout. The DVD's audio transfers works great as well, perfectly balancing both de Montalembert's narration and Tarn's brilliant score. The disc does not include any special features.
Black Sun is a powerful documentary, and I highly recommend it for both its engaging visuals and fascinating story.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.66:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 70 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site