In 1978, French artist and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert was attacked in his New York home. His assailants took from him something seemingly essential to his life: his sight. Black Sun, Gary Tarn's thoughtful if monotonous documentary portrait, is the fascinating story of a unique man and his extraordinary reaction to a life-changing trauma.
De Montalembert's reaction to being blinded was both peculiar and inspirational. He became more independent than when he had his sight and struck out to walk the earth, completely alone. Blind, bankrupt and on the other side of the world from his American home (he jumped on a plane to Indonesia), de Montalembert decided he would write a book. That book, written in imposed darkness and the quiet of rural Asia, became a bestseller in the painter's native France. It's just one of de Montalembert's stinging counter punches to the face of circumstance.
"LACKS A SPARK"
Tarn's film, a constantly changing tableau of prettily shot visuals that provides abstract illustration to de Montalembert's own narration, lacks a spark to compare with the subject's amazing story. Perhaps to emphasise his subject's insular world, the film is scored with ponderous, ambient music.
Hugues de Montalembert's story is worth hearing in any case. Even if Tarn had shot Black Sun as a 70-minute talking head interview it would still be an irresistible account of an exceptional man.