Skip to Content




12:30   2:30   4:40   7:00   9:10

Through Tuesday, November 29 Audio description track


Oliver Sacks, the great neurologist, wrote that John Hull’s memoir, On Sight and Insight: A Journey into the World of Blindness is “the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read.” When theologian John Hull (1935-2015) lost his sight at age 48, he embarked upon an audio diary, recording the physical and emotional transformations he experienced, as well as his brilliant, sophisticated philosophical observations on this life-changing event. Middleton and Spinney dramatize Hull’s life and words: “I am concerned to understand blindness, to seek its meaning, to retain the fullness of my humanity.” He becomes aware of what he can experience, perhaps with even greater intensity: listening to music or the sound of rain falling onto different surfaces, dancing with his wife, feeling sunlight on his face, dreams, and memories. Intimate and immersive, the film embraces one man’s successful struggle to employ his intellectual and sensual resources to navigate this great trauma.

NOTE:  The companion Virtual Reality experience, Notes on Blindness: Into Darkness, is being shown at New York’s only VR cinema, Jump Into The Light. More info and discount information for audience members can be found here.

UK / FRANCE • 2016 • 90 MINS. • IN ENGLISH • BOND/360

Audio description trackAudio description is available at all shows. Headsets are available at the box office.


“Critic’s Pick. Magnificent…the film, using mostly (John Hull’s) words, describes with extraordinary eloquence, precision and poetic sensitivity his physical and psychological metamorphosis as he felt the world retreat until it seemed mostly out of reach. The spine of the film – the first feature directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney – is an audio-cassette diary that Professor Hull kept for three years and published in 1990 as Touching the Rock [available at concession]… Avoids the sentimental pitfalls of a documentary this personal. Its overt religiosity is minimal. The tone of the narration is so wrenchingly honest that the film never lapses into self-pity or relies on mystical platitudes. Visually, NOTES ON BLINDNESS subtly evokes sightlessness with its many scenes with shadowy palette, figures in silhouette and brief interludes in which the screen goes dark. The strategy brings out the dazzling beauty of moments shot in brilliant color.”
– Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“The filmmakers create art out of what is too often a documentary stopgap… (they) achieve a peculiar formalist beauty. The scenes… are as moving as Hull’s words.”
– Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“Superb. Middleton and Spinney have created an utterly immersive feature worthy of Hull’s end-quote declaration that ‘to gain our full humanity, blind people and sighted people need to see each other.’ Brilliantly blurs the boundary between drama and documentary, the disjuncture between authentic sound and artificial vision perfectly capturing the contradictory nature of Hull’s worldview. Lends boldly adventurous cinematic form to the heightened experiences of an articulate, eloquent, and soul-searchingly honest subject.” 
– Mark Kermode, The Guardian

“Elegant, evocative and deeply affecting. A combination of fascinating subject matter and expressive, almost immersive execution. High quality, thought-provoking.”
– Wendy Ide, Screen Daily

Film Forum