At First Sight (1999)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  15 January 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 10,876 users   Metascore: 40/100
Reviews: 105 user | 55 critic | 21 from

A blind man has an operation to regain his sight at the urging of his girlfriend and must deal with the changes to his life.



(story) (as Oliver Sacks M.D.) , (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Margo Winkler ...
Brett Robbins ...
Jack Falk (as Willie Carpenter)
Charles Winkler ...
Kelly Chapman ...
Susan (as Kelly Chapman Meyer)


A driven Manhattan architect, Amy, relaxes at a resort and falls for the masseur, Virgil, blind since age 3 and assisted by his spinster sister. He helps Amy hear and sense the world, giving her new spirit and a burst of creativity. Over the sister's objections, Amy takes Virgil to New York for new, radical surgery. He regains his sight. He's disoriented and must learn to process these new images. Finding his place in a seeing world strains his relation with Amy; his absent father wants to connect with him now that he can see; then, retinal disease threatens to undo the surgery. Can love survive, will he find his new place and his old tranquillity, can Amy accommodate limits? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Only Love Can Bring You To Your Senses. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for scenes involving sexuality and nudity, and for brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 January 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sight Unseen  »

Box Office


$60,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$8,444,321 (USA) (15 January 1999)


ESP 109,523,700 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


There have been several references to Val Kilmer in the hit sitcom Friends (1994) with the most notable being when Ross rented Val Kilmer's jacket that he wore to the 'At First Sight' premiere. See more »


At the end of the movie Virgil and Amy walk away and Virgil is letting his new guide dog lead him. The guide dog walks straight past the curbside obstacle without hesitation. No working guide dog would have missed this obstacle, it is too inbred during their training. Missing an obstacle of this magnitude would have called for, at the very least, a firm word of caution if not a subtle leash correction. The guide dog would have also stopped to check for traffic as Virgil did not seem to be paying attention. See more »


Virgil: She smelled like cinnamon and nutmeg.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the start of the closing credits: Inspired by Dr. Oliver Sacks' true account of the experiences of Shirl and Barbara Jennings They are now married and living in Atlanta, Georgia Barbara continues to sculpt and although Shirl never regained his vision, he now paints pictures of his brief adventure in sight See more »


References Kung Fu (1972) See more »


Purpose to Be
Written by Nadirah Shakoor and Adrian Gurvitz
Performed by Nadirah Shakoor
Courtesy of Criterion Music Corp.
See more »

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User Reviews

Amazing movie
9 January 1999 | by (New Jersey) – See all my reviews

I went into the theater expecting the normal amount of mushiness one can assume will be present in a love story. However, I was pleasantly surprised. At First Sight contains little sappiness, or other such material that only takes up time. Instead, the film was an honest look at one man's attempt to adjust to the "sight" world. At First Sight offered a look into the struggles Virgil Adamson faced after having sight for the first since he was 1. The film also outlined the pain of his loved ones, as they tried to help him adjust to a new environment, while facing pain and confusion themselves.

At First Sight is an emotional roller coaster. The film jumps around from rejoicing, sadness, frustration, confusion, and happiness. Yet because these are very real emotions for the characters, the audience sympathizes. The film uses these emotions artfully, without appearing to jam them down the audience's throat.

As any good movie will, At First Sight opens the audience's eyes to the people who live through these experiences. Everyday things, like what a bird is, and what an expression means at a given moment, must be explained Virgil. The lessons Virgil must learn and the way he deals with them are both amusing and sad.

This movie challenges traditional beliefs by stating that a "handicap" is a barrier. Often the real problem is trying to fix it.

If you're in the market for an excellent movie, with a solid cast, and good effects, see At First Sight.

35 of 36 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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