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Notes on Blindness (2016)

2:22 | Trailer
In the summer of 1983, just days before the birth of his first son, writer and theologian John Hull went blind. In order to make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping a diary ... See full summary »
Nominated for 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 4 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
John M. Hull John M. Hull ... Self (voice)
Marilyn Hull Marilyn Hull ... Self (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Miranda Beinart-Smith Miranda Beinart-Smith ... Imogen
Jamie Bradley ... Toni
Eileen Davies ... Madge Hull
Tim Gebbels Tim Gebbels ... Minister
Simone Kirby ... Marilyn Hull
Mahalia Martin-Jones Mahalia Martin-Jones ... Lizzie
Dan Renton Skinner Dan Renton Skinner ... John Hull (as Dan Skinner)
Sidney Warbrick Sidney Warbrick ... Thomas (as Sidney Nicholas Warbrick)
Stanley Warbrick Stanley Warbrick ... Thomas (as Stanley John Warbrick)
Lorelei Winterfrost Lorelei Winterfrost ... Young Imogen Hull
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In the summer of 1983, just days before the birth of his first son, writer and theologian John Hull went blind. In order to make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began keeping a diary on audiocassette. Upon their publication in 1990, Oliver Sacks described the work as 'the most extraordinary, precise, deep and beautiful account of blindness I have ever read. It is to my mind a masterpiece.' With exclusive access to these original recordings, NOTES ON BLINDNESS encompasses dreams, memory and imaginative life, excavating the interior world of blindness.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Documentary | Drama


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Did You Know?


When it was shown on British TV, the film was made available with two soundtracks. The first was a "heightened soundtrack" produced by one of Europe's leading sound designers, Joakim Sundström, who created a rich, immersive soundtrack calibrated specifically for blind audiences, using enhanced sound design and additional audio from the characters to guide the audience through the story. The second was a more regular audio described version read by Stephen Mangan. See more »


Marilyn Hull: [I began to be terribly afraid... that something would be broken between us which could not be healed. That you were disappearing into a world where I could not follow]
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Spin-off Notes on Blindness (2016) See more »

User Reviews

A beautiful conclusion of a journey searching for meaning beyond sight
10 January 2018 | by febprisleySee all my reviews

A semi-documentary drama, directed by Peter Middleton and James Spinney, produced by The New York Times, is a memoir of a theologian and author, John M. Hull. The 90-minute documentary was developed from Hull's cassette-taped audio cassette that gradually lost sight in 1983. The main film is a second project of Middleton and Spinney who previously worked on short films, as well as a Hull record of approximately 16 hours. Middleton and Spinney then selected and compiled the parts that best demonstrate Hull's physical and psychological expression when he loses his eyesight and how it affects his personal emotions and family life.

The film is somewhat unusual, as it recounts the memoirs of a man's audio recording and his struggle with the process of his blindness. Middleton and Spinney beautifully visualize Hull's audio recording with his wife, Marilyn. With the brilliant performance of the actors who berlyp-sync harmonize the actual words spoken by John and his wife, managed to strengthen the visualization of this film.

It is, however, an irony when we enjoy a visual presentation of the emotions and feelings of a person who loses his visual abilities. As if this film can make us understand Hull's struggle to control his emotions when he lost his eyes slowly. But this is what Middleton and Spinney did. Using Hull's audio diary, they elegantly visualize every Hull word that is equally beautiful.

The cinematographer, Gerry Floyd does an amazing job. By taking close-up pictures, we see detail in the Hull world. As if we could feel the texture of the walls, the surface of the wooden table, even the gentle face of his wife. Makes us feel what Hull feels when he has to grope around the walls and surrounds while walking. We are invited to feel Hull's emotions as he loses his ability to see, feel more detail everything around him.

Accompanied by a musical score with the right portion, bringing our atmosphere and feelings into every Hull's speech, with no added soundtrack. The most memorable and memorable moment is when Hull and his wife dance in the living room accompanied by the soundtrack of The Mamas and The Papas, making us feel the warmth of love between the two.

John not only lost his eyesight, but it took him to lose one by one other things in his life. How can he read, take notes, research, teach at college? What about his other responsibilities? As if that were not enough, Hull's blindness also snatched his past. He slowly loses his memory of the visual around him, even his wife's face. He also had not had time to see the face of his son Lizzie and 2 children last born after his blindness.

John reveals to us that he believes some of his brains are dying because some of them no longer have the power to process images. He said he was hungry for the stimuli he could not get. The frustration of being uselessly effective as a parent is also a heavy burden in his mind, and several times in his audio recording, we can almost feel the depression John has to endure. At first, Hull wrestled against the signs of his blindness even until he was totally blind. He recorded the books he had to read to remain active as a teacher. He continues to reject the reality of his life. But gradually, the resistance was in vain. He also learned to accept reality.

"Was I going to live in reality or live in nostalgia? I would not live in nostalgia, but would live in reality. And become blind, "he said. The dream he experienced and the way he described it was a beautiful bitter torture, for it was the only way to bring a new picture to his world. "It's a present," he said. "It was not the gift I wanted, but it was a gift." At that point, his question became: "It's not why I got it, but what would I do with it?" Hull learned to be blind. It makes it an advantage, rather than flaws. He felt things around him in a way he had never felt before.

"How can you blind and sighted people really understand each other? How can man understand women? How can the rich understand the poor? How can the old understand the young? Can we have insight into other people? This answer to the whole question is at the end of Hull's quote statement that "To get our full humanity, the blind and the sighted people need to meet each other." A beautiful conclusion of a journey searching for meaning beyond sight and hearing.

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Release Date:

1 July 2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Notes on Blindness See more »


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Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Atmos



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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