Directed by Peter Middleton & James Spinney, UK, 2016, 90 mins

With Dan Skinner, John Hull, Marilyn Hull

When John Hill realised he was going blind, he started recording his thoughts and feelings on tape, which ultimately led to the ground breaking book Touching the Rock. Peter Middleton and James Spinney have taken those tapes, combined them with a collage of filmed images to create an extraordinary, almost hallucinogenic, exploration of what it is to be blind.

Middleton and Spinney audaciously dramatize Hill’s fractured, diffuse world by having actor Dan Skinner mouth his words so that while what we hear is real, what we see is only a version of the truth – it is as if we are experiencing Hill’s faulty memory at work. Despite being deprived of the use of both eyes and voice, Skinner’s performance is remarkably sensitive. The film – which is to say Hill’s commentary on his condition – is packed with arresting, insightful observations, but ultimately works best as an elegiac meditation on the world he inhabited, where, in his words, the stars and the moon, and then finally the sun , have all gone, and the world only takes shape as an aural landscape of refracted rainwater.

John Hill sadly passed away during the making of the film. Notes on Blindness is a fitting tribute.

By David Vass

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