Losing your sight is a distressing thing for anyone to go through, but is it more distressing if you are a theologian? What sort of God would strike blind one of His greatest defenders just days before the birth of his child? These are some of the questions at the heart of a remarkable new documentary, Notes on Blindness. In 1980 theologian and academic John Hull began losing his eyesight. Three years later, he was completely blind. The last thing he saw was a church steeple.
To make sense of his predicament, Hull began making an audio diary of his thoughts. The film uses those recordings, with actors lip-syncing, to make a riveting, thoughtful, poetic meditation on sight, memory, love, loss, and family. Sound design is often an afterthought in documentaries; here, the work of Joakim Sundström is an essential part of the film’s dreamy atmosphere. Notes on Blindness also borrows a little from another masterwork on memory and loss, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. It seems an odd thing to urge you to see a film about blindness; nevertheless, see this film as soon as you can.