‘Notes on Blindness: Rainfall’ Review

I should also say that this is an experience of beauty. Instead of being isolated, cut off, preoccupied internally, you are presented with the world; you are related to a world; you are addressed by the world…Why should this experience strike one as being beautiful? Cognition is beautiful. It is beautiful to know…

I’ve watched it and rewatched many times already. The first in a series of shorts to come, “Notes on Blindness: Rainfall” is a dramatization of John Hull’s original audio tapes that record his journey of experiencing blindness in the middle of his life.

Hull is a professor and author of religious studies and theology, but it’s not his occupation that is the main focus of this short. After years of deteriorating eyesight, Hull completely lost light sensation in 1983, a few years after his first child was born. We follow his intimate journey through this visual reenactment to Hull’s audio cassette recordings where he struggles to understand and cope with the concept of blindness in order to escape the possible destruction it would provide him.

In the short, Hull speaks of moving into the first difficulties faced with blindness: not remembering how his wife looked, not remembering how his children acted around their father, experiencing the disappointment from his loved ones of how he can’t see them. He speaks of how God helps him with providing strength and courage but not being there to actually restore his sight fully and how it affects his identity.  But the most striking part of the entire short, is where he talks of rain: how its sound is specific and unique, how it provided him comfort in a time of panic, how it reminded him that he was relevant to and acknowledged by a beautiful world. Even if he couldn’t see it, he could hear the beauty of the world.

The cinematographic effects only adds to the story of this film. Silhouettes, blurs, blackouts, carefully thought-out camera angles, grainy videos and photographs, etc. provide a sense of deep nostalgia from Hull’s life. It’s incredibly artistic and aware of the human senses and emotions. You may forget that this film was not scripted (even the reenactment of his wife was taken from a BBC interview), that this is a reflection from someone’s life.

Personally, I was truly moved by this short, reminded of how beauty can be taken from the world through knowledge and emotion, even in a time of despair and chaos.

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