By Admin | February 28, 2007

In 1978, artist and filmmaker Hugues de Montalembert was the victim of a break-in at his Manhattan apartment. While trying to fight off his assailants, one of the miscreants threw paint remover in de Montalembert’s eyes. His screams of pain scared the attackers off, but the damage was immediate and irreversible. By the following morning, de Montalembert was permanently blinded.

Gary Tarn’s documentary “Black Sun” details de Montalembert’s story of rebuilding his life, not only from an emotional standpoint but from a professional struggle (how can one be a visual artist without vision?). Clearly this man is among the most amazing and indefatigable forces of nature, and his life story (which was originally detailed in a best-selling autobiography) deserves to be known.

Sadly, Tarn opted to frame de Montalembert’s story in an annoying and pretentious manner. The screen is polluted by an endless skein of images, most of which have no relation to de Montalembert’s life story. Tarn also tries to approximate de Montalembert’s ocular experiences by filling the screen with artsy out-of-focus shots and inappropriate psychedelic color configurations that seem to have been stolen from “Yellow Submarine.”

One might excuse the hodgepodge of Film School 101 approach based on de Montalembert’s extraordinary real-life journey. Unfortunately, he narrates his autobiographical film with an indolent style that sounds like an overworked inventory manager checking off a shipping invoice. The dullness of de Montalembert’s narration compounds the annoying visual aspects of Tarn’s filmmaking, which is further wrecked by Tarn’s painfully monotonous music score (a minimalist drone that makes Philip Glass seem like Spike Jones).

The resulting production in an assault against all senses, and it is incomprehensible that such an amazing story could be the foundation of such a boring and inept film.

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