Hugues de Montalembert had hardly met a blind person when suddenly, violently, he became one. On a late-spring evening in 1978, the French painter and filmmaker entered his New York apartment and was viciously assaulted by two men looking for money. In the struggle, one of the attackers threw a vial of paint remover in his face. The pain was instant, searing; de Montalembert's screams scared the muggers off. Throwing himself under the shower, he could already feel his sight fading: he awoke in a Soho hospital, completely blind. De Montalembert was forced to come to terms with the fact that he would probably never see again. Drawing on half-a-lifetime of visual stimulation, he found that his brain, compensating for a lack of images, would create its own. Initially disconcerted, he soon came to take this alternative reality for granted; to the point where later he would sometimes be unable to distinguish his real memories from his imagination. After 2 years of rehabilitation, he felt ready to travel again, and it was in Bali, that he was nurtured and, in a sense, reborn. Writing by hand, he recounted the events and his feelings of the past two years. Within a year he had amassed eight hundred pages. The manuscript was sent to Paris where it was immediately published and became a national best-seller and later an international success. De Montalembert has continued to journey for the past twenty years and is currently completing his third book documenting these travels.
A cinematic meditation on a life without sight