This is a very good film and one well worth shelling out for, since it rewards repeated viewings. The music is beautiful, the insights that it offers are (for a sighted viewer at least) likely to be fresh and revealing and it is pleasingly without a trace of patronising or sentimentality.
That said, it isn't perfect.
I first saw this film at a screening where director Gary Tarn was available for a Q&A afterwards. The film's almost Zen like state of serenity and its purity (ethereal music and just one voice) risked sending the viewer to sleep but also rendered it criticism-proof. Yet on a second viewing, as a blind person myself, I can detect faults.
As I understood it from the Q&A (and I may be mistaken), Hugues de Montalembert is a friend of Gary's, and the dialogue came from 4 hours worth of conversations. As someone who studied journalism, I can't help feeling that this is surprisingly little, and I do wonder if Gary might have benefited from being a little more probing. Of course this is just one man's experience, but as a visual artist with visual artist friends, how did Hugues retain a frame of reference
so that they could still have satisfying conversations? How does he feel about his attacker? While many blind people (myself included) have experienced hallucinations, were there catalysts such as previous drug experiences or religious background? Last of all, I am intrigued by the eccentric decision to write pages and pages of handwritten manuscripts. To what did these
relate and did it represent an attempt to hold onto a sighted paradigm? I'll take Hugues
at his word on this, but can't help cynically noting a similar scene in Jose Saramago's worryingly over-rated novel Blindness.
The comparison with Blindness (the novel and film) is appropriate as I write this shortly after having seen Fernando Meirelles adaptation of Saramago's novel. The film improved on its source material and while neither version of Blindness came close to Gary Tarn's accomplishment with
Black Sun, it has to be noted that Hugues de Montalembert does represent a blind stereotype, namely the mystic. For all the implausibilities in the characters developed by Saramago / Meirelles, they remain neither symbols nor stereotypes.
So then, these are a few qualifiers to my appreciation of Black Sun. However I would hate them to put people off seeing what is still an exceptional film and one that I highly recommend.