This short opinionated documentary (Op-Doc) was premiered in 2014 by The New York Times, directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney. This Op-Doc talks about the story of writer and theologian John Hull, who went blind in 1983, keeping an audio diary of his experiences going blind. The Op-Doc was shot as a dramatization with real actors and Hull’s real audio diary as narration.
This was an amazingly moving piece, revealing a whole new view on life. Nobody had really thought about what it is like being blind. Hull managed to describe it with such beauty and serenity, revealing his worries and fears to his enlightenment and clarity. He revealed a new perspective in the life of the blind, which had never been described this intensely before.
Countless films have been produced about being in the shoes of a blind person, I was reminded of the movie “At First Sight”, though not a documentary, still a movie that depicts the life of a blind man and how he had to adapt to the situation of being able to see from an eye surgery. Hull’s experience may be the opposite to the movie, but both similar in a way that both men had to adapt to the different situations of their eyes. However, “Notes on Blindness” held a unique element of being a documentary of a first-hand account of a blind man, and not only was it a first-hand account, it opened up a poetic view in how it feels to live in darkness. He talked about many things that we would never have thought of in our everyday lives, like the fear of never seeing your loved ones, the fear of forgetting, the cross roads of accepting and not accepting, and even the little things like the beauty of rain drops.
Not only did it have a strong back story and narration, the cinematography was incredibly beautiful. They had great images that represented Hull’s dreams and memories, like the images of the surging waves, which came from his own account or the image of Hull cradling his baby, which came from his own photograph.
I really enjoy the way the cinematography showed images depicted from Hull’s diary, which they placed in a subtle matter, rather than an obvious way of making the images look like they had a meaning. This to me really shows their creativity in getting the audience to think and understand the symbols.
The whole atmosphere was well established with the help of good back sound as well, it all came together nicely as one beautifully pieced Op-Doc. This is one short anyone should definitely try out, something that might even put tears in the audience eyes.
Text by Cesilia Faustina