Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Directed by British newcomer Gary Tarn, Black Sun profiles New York resident Hugues de Montalembert, a painter and filmmaker who was blinded when two random attackers threw paint remover in his face. With great tenacity, de Montalembert refused to be restrained by his new disability, instead embracing this new challenge by travelling to Indonesia alone and writing a bestseller, an experience he is charmingly modest about. Throughout the film, the artist is heard not seen, his commentary forming a structure for Tarn’s own visual journey around the world. Every image colours and reconstructs de Montalembert’s descriptions in a fluid structure. We see traffic, buildings, the smiling faces of passersby. At one point, a simple framework of the New York streets appears in mimesis of de Montalembert’s spatial perceptivity.

Tarn utilises a variety of camera tricks and shooting styles, much of it tinted with the same yellow-green filter, and to a great degree of success. Even with the occasional disparity of image and sound, the focus is predominantly on de Montalembert’s life story and positive outlook, creating an enchanting, uplifting experience. One could however argue that it is a bit rich for a seeing filmmaker to present his own vision to corroborate with the voice of a blind filmmaker, and though it’s a respectful tribute, it works better as a showcase for Tarn’s talent. Occasionally it brings to mind Moacir Arte Bruta, a documentary following a poverty-stricken artist with physical disabilities, and the two together would make a touching double screening.


  1. Seems along the vein of the Diving Bell and The Butterfly. It's gotta be hard to try to film a whole movie from a particular character's point of view , especially when that person's reality is so impossible to be fully visualized. Quite a challenge..Any others come to mind where the camera is the eye of the character?.
    What is the image in the photo? Looks kind of architectural...

  2. The image in the photo is of the computer-generated tour through a street in NYC, as mentioned at the end of the first paragraph. I agree, it's not an easy task to undertake, but there is some definite divergence given that the subject here is also an artist. As for other examples... I guess Derek Jarman's Blue (1993) would count? He was going blind at that point, and this is reflected in the unmoving monochrome presentation. I have yet to see it, but will probably review it soon as I am embarking upon an essay on the man.